FACEIT’s Dota move shows micro tournaments rising
Regular tournaments for amateur players have arrived for Dota 2, paving the way to eSports for all.
The FACEIT platform held its first open beta weekend for Dota players last week, giving any player the chance to compete for points and prizes, just like their pro-tier idols. The format proved so popular with Counter-Strike: Global Offensive fans that FACEIT, which has an office in the heart of London’s City finance centre, is now one of the leading professional tournament organisers, too.
Can they recreate this success in other games? And what does the rise of the micro tournament mean for professional gaming? We spoke to FACEIT chief operating officer Michele Attisani to find out more.
Weekly and daily tournaments with small payouts are not exactly new, FACEIT itself has been around in some form since 2012. But their rise in popularity goes hand-in-hand with the viewership figures for major gaming competitions. The more people see big numbers on cardboard cheques, the more inclined they are to give it a go themselves. And that’s exactly what Michele wants for his users.
“Everyone is focusing on professional level tournaments, which represent the top 0.1 percent of the player base, building huge events and stadiums for them,” Michele told Red Bull. “We want to use our experience with these events and players to build the ‘football pitches’ for everyone else. Give them a chance to compete anytime they want without investing eight hours for a tournament, playing with players of their skill level and with a chance to win something and, who knows, maybe get spotted by some pro teams.”
This “jumpers for goalposts” approach to open tournaments keeps things casual and moving freely, an attitude that those coming into games played as eSports sorely need when the rest of the game can be frustratingly complex – none more so than Dota 2. So how has the opening weekend fared for FACEIT users?
“We went into open beta last Friday after one month of private testing and the reaction was well above expectations,” Michele told us. “All our daily tournaments have been full since and overall game sessions across the platform, not just Dota, jumped to 3.5 million per month.”
Players are banding together in their own skill brackets to win prizes, ranging from virtual goods like skins, items and in-game currency to physical products like peripherals, new gaming laptops and desktops (coming soon). If you somehow scrape together 5 million points, you can even win a FACEIT branded Fiat 500.
Obviously, with the system in beta, there are a few kinks to work out, but full rosters are a good start for a new venture, and bring with them plenty of testers. “Over the coming weeks we’re going to run a number of events for the community in order to gather additional feedback and fine tune the product for their specific needs,” Michele said. “We are grateful to the community that has been providing very constructive feedback. They are making our life easier in building a product that caters their specific needs.”
As with most undertakings in eSports, FACEIT’s community-first approach guides the majority of their decisions, including how far in CS:GO’s footsteps this new Dota venture follows. FACEIT’s CS:GO league finals in 2014 offered $44,000 in prize money to top-tier professional teams, and it’s up to the Dota community if they want to follow suit.
“Initially we're planning to work with some of our close partners, supporting their efforts on Dota 2,” Michele said. “Our focus with Dota is to cater to the competitive community; if the community will demand it as the CS:GO community did, we are ready to answer positively.” But support and advice from professionals is also on the agenda. “Our product team is working closely with a number of them – including James ‘2GD’ Harding – who have been supporting us in this adventure and whose help has been instrumental.”
But offering another stage to the pros isn’t all Michele wants for the format. The split of small-time and big-time within the same tournament umbrella offers a common route for advancing into professional eSports, much like the tech start-up incubator Michele founded in his previous life as an entrepreneurial investor.
“The lower amount of time commitment required and accessibility of these tournaments assures that players that are getting into competitive gaming are not immediately scared off,” Michele explains. “It allows them to find a team and decide whether they want to keep going with their journey into eSports.”
“Additionally the links between weekly satellites and our Professional Leagues are a great chance for young players to improve and emerge in the competitive scene. Some of the top players in the world are constantly playing on FACEIT since well before becoming worldwide stars.”
Overall, the micro tournament format makes a lot of sense on paper, but the practice is where it has proven itself. And despite the potential to act as just another showcase for big names, Michele knows where the real goals are.
“The benefits are significant for everyone in the ecosystem, the community is the fuel that moves the industry forward,” he tells us. “Building a passionate competitive community is the basis of any successful eSport title.”
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Uploaded: Jan 30, 2015