Why the EG StarCraft 2 Masters Cup Rocked

EG MSI Masters Cup Coverage

djWHEAT and Day9 broadcasting the EG Masters Cup sponsored by MSI

I apologize for the delay in content as I’ve been extremely busy with school and other projects recently. Moving on, it’s so easy for us to criticize individuals or organizations in eSports, especially because there are a lot of people out there who have no idea what they are doing. Despite this, I also feel it is important we recognize when the good guys get it right, and that is exactly what happened this past weekend during the final rounds of the Evil Geniuses Masters Cup sponsored by MSI.

Let me start off by saying I’m not some kind of biased EG fanboy or anything like that so I think I can speak with a fair sense of objectivity when I say the EG MSI Masters Cup was one of the best run and covered small money online prize events I’ve seen in a while. The tournament consisted of a maximum of 500 total competitors and ran for a couple weeks in 4 group single elimination bracket until the top 16 players (4 from each bracket) were seeded into a single elimination 16 team finals bracket. The finals bracket was then played out over the course of two days (this past Saturday and Sunday) and streamed live by Marcus “djWHEAT” Graham and Sean “Day9” Plott. The prizes were as follows: 1st: $1,000, 2nd: $500, and 3rd: $250. The winner also got the opportunity to play EG.IdrA in a best of five series for the chance to win an MSI GT660 notebook if they won. Needless to say, the event was a huge success. Now let’s look why.

The Competition
It sounds somewhat obvious, but if you are going to hold a small money online tournament it’s usually a good idea to have some pretty good players competing to make it interesting. In addition, your event has to be open enough so that every other ordinary Joe who plays the game can compete. The EG Masters Cup did both extremely well. Despite the large numbers and single elimination format, the best of three series used in the single elimination gave even those who were eliminated in the first round some fun for a couple matches. Once the event headed into the finals bracket, the matches obviously got much more interesting. Although we never saw any of the series go all five games, the matches were competitive and entertaining to watch. Overall, the competition from top to bottom was excellent, contributing to the success of the event.

The Coverage
There are a lot of online events who have weekend/short finals in hopes of hyping up their event and drawing a larger viewing audience. This is an excellent concept, but it only works if you can actually provide coverage for all the matches people want to see. EG and MSI spared no expense, flying some of the best talent in the business in djWHEAT and Day9 to SirScoots house to setup a quality coverage crew. Not only was talent and production of the coverage excellent, but they were able to broadcast every match save 2 (they were first round matches between HuK and someone and another match with two other players). As I’ve already pointed out, providing coverage for every match taking place does wonders for eSports event success.

Unfortunately not everything can be sunshine and rainbows all the time, and despite the fantastic quality of the coverage, there were occasional technical problems. On a number of occasions the stream went down, but the crew handled the problem extremely well by keeping the audience informed they were working on the problem. Additionally, I estimate the average time the stream went down was probably about 5 minutes or so, so it’s not like the delays were lengthy. From just pure memory, I think the longest delay happened when the stream crashed right before HuK played against IdrA for a chance to win the MSI notebook, and that probably had something to do with the fact the viewership on the stream jumped over 15,000. I don’t even call that a problem, I call it a success.

Finally, it’s all well and good to have a great matches and a quality coverage crew, but if no one watches your event you’ve basically spent a lot of time and money making only you and your best friend happy. Slasher, FishStix, and others did an excellent job spreading word of the event and the coverage details around to various Starcraft 2 AND general gaming communities. Furthermore, the event was advertised over a variety of mediums: twitter, facebook, reddit, forums, and etc. At the end of day, all of this amounted to roughly 16,000 people (if I recall correctly) watching the notebook finals between HuK and IdrA .

(All matches will also eventually be viewable on demand via djWHEAT’s blip.tv.)

MSI Video Ad

Quality advertising is something that should never be overlooked.

The Marketing
Having great competitions and excellent coverage makes the gamers happy, but at the end of the day these events are usually sponsored by a company who’s general objective is to make money.  We all know the reason companies sponsor these events is gain exposure in the hopes those watching the event will purchase their products/services at some point in time. Part of the success of this marketing strategy is linked to good competition and coverage, as both will be excellent spectator draws. The other part comes with the actual execution of the advertising. If you are going to loop the same ads on a video stream at least put in the effort to make them quality ads; MSI and EG certainly delivered on this front. Now I know it’s hard for some of you to swallow the phrase ‘quality ads,’ but they actually do exist. Good ads don’t annoy us, even in repetition, while bad ads not only turn us away from the medium they are placed on, but also the product and company doing the advertising. In the end, the overall presentation, organization, and execution of the Masters Cup was excellent, which in turn reflects extremely well on MSI and their products. If I had to wage a bet, I think MSI was pretty pleased with the results.

Conclusion
At the end of the day I think it was pretty obvious to everyone watching and participating in the EG Masters Cup how successful it was. On every front, the Masters Cup excelled beyond what you typically see from these types of small money online events, and that is a good thing for eSports. The lesson learned here is simple: if you are going to do something – do it right. Evil Geniuses and MSI certainly did.