Explaining what makes esports events so incredible to those unfamiliar with them can be quite tricky. If you are used to the likes of football, where every week stadiums with capacities of up to 80.000 are sold out every week, being told that watching ten guys play video games in a studio in a hotel in Malta of all places is an even greater experience might seem like a stretch to say the least. Yet it remains true, it just does not appear that way if you are merely on the outside looking in.
So let me let you in and take you behind the scenes of the ESL Pro League Season 17 playoffs.
Approaching the hotel, you perhaps would not have even noticed that an esports event was taking place inside. Besides a couple of ESL flags that were hoisted around the arena, not a whole lot would have prepared you for what’s going on inside.
Because there, you were greeted not only by the unbridled passion of esports fanatics eagerly waiting for the party to be started, but also by the lovely message you see above and as the title of this post. A message that stuck with me for how incredibly accurate it ended up being.
Throughout the entire event, the atmosphere was electric. What differentiates esports fans most from their traditional counterparts is the appreciation we show to every single team. Sure, everyone has a favorite team to cheer for, but that does not come to the detriment of the other teams. Throughout the entire day, starting at 2 p.m. in the afternoon until late in the evening, every fan in attendance cheered for every player and every team. This day-long celebration of esports, if you will, can get incredibly exhausting for sure, but it’s also a lot of fun. So much so, that I ended up recognizing the familiar faces of fans I had seen the days prior quite quickly. In a sense, the fans that were there, me included, not just wanted, but almost felt the need to be there. It was ESL’s job to organize the event, ours to provide the atmosphere befitting of esports. Whether we knew each other beforehand or not, we tried to do our part in elevating the event.
That feeling of being a part of the event and playing a role in the success of it did not stop at the interactions we fans had between one another.
What set the ESL Pro League apart from anything I have ever attended was the openness from players, commentators, and ESL staff members. Between matches I had the opportunity to talk to some of the players about the event and the recently announced CS2, not because I had a VIP-Pass or anything along those lines, but because they themselves were genuinely interested in engaging with the audience and hearing from them. I even met the product manager and the commissioner of the ESL Pro League, as well as the CEO of Gaming Malta to talk about the overall presentation of the event and had a quick brainstorming session with them to come up with ideas on how the event could be improved in the future. It did not feel like there was a barrier between the fans and those in charge of producing and organizing the show. We were in this together, as fans, commentators, players, and staff members, collaborating to create an incredible esports weekend.
It’s why calling it a f***ing family event felt so fitting to me. It truly was a family event, not in a sense that you would bring your child with you to watch some Counter-Strike, but as a distant family get-together. The ones where you meet cousins, aunts, and nephews you have not seen for years, but that you instantly feel a connection to. Where everyone chimes in to to make sure everyone is having a great time. And where you leave the next morning thinking: I sure hope we do this sometime soon again.
Luckily for us esports fans, the next f***ing family event is always just around the corner.
And everyone’s invited.
Insights, ideas, and stories for esports enthusiasts