ESL One Cologne: What Felt Right?
With a lot of attention given to events being negative in the past, and with it being those speakers who shout loudest, I have decided to focus on the positives of ESL One Cologne. So, what feels right?
Well, first and possibly most important of what feels right is the fan experience. The biggest part of this obviously being the time spent in the arena and watching the games, something all of the over ten thousand fans can do with ease. There are extremely few seats in the arena which I would consider sub optimal. All of us from the top to the bottom seem to have been taken into account, two monstrously huge screens showing the twitch stream action hang above the stage, with a large map overview on it's own screen in between them. Not only that, but we have all been to the cinema and been far too close to the screen, ending with a sore neck, right? Well, not here, no, ESL thought of that and have TV screens set up just infront of the stage to give the fans closest to the players a comfortable option. There is even screens on each side of the stage, showing the team logo for that team and either the Terrorist or Counter Terrorist symbol depending on which side they are on.
The map overview was a nice touch
To accompany the impressive visual set up is the dynamic lighting and the high quality audio. The lighting is used in every imaginable way, the low blue lighting that fills half the arena during a round is easy on the eyes, leaving your belongings visible, but your mind focused on the action. The yellow that fills the other half achieveing much the same effect while giving the juxtaposition of the colours representing CT and T.
Another point is that, as far as I have experienced, the prices of food and such have been fair for the fans. I have not personally been buying too much and as such can not give an in depth review on anything, however, compared to other events such as football games, the prices seem to be decent when they could have easily been inflated. Perhaps it's just England like to make our food expensive in arenas and this is normal in Europe, I do not travel often.
The accesibility of players was surely also a high point for the fans eager to meet their idols. It feels as though the players were not hidden away all of the time, although the teams did have private booths I will mention later. To and from the food courts, press rooms and expos, you could spot a familiar face in the crowd, a ninja here, a renegade there. This, coupled with the ample signing sessions provided, made the whole event feel like you were being included in one big party and gave chances for great memories to be made.
Signing sessions gave fans a chance to meet their favourite players
On the other side of the coin from that, the team lounges provided by ESL at the event were fantastic. The booths that can be seen from the arena on the inner ring, allowed for the players and staff alike to enjoy the show and have a great view of the spectacle infront of them. While the players do love talking to their fans, they would never have time to stop if they didn't have somwhere private to go, and the way that ESL went about this was excellent.
Again from a more behind the scenes point of view, the way the press were handled by Anna, Chrystina and the rest of the ESL staff was, in my experience, fantastic. From before the event even started the communication was on point with all of the needed information being supplied in the emails, including guides and maps for on the day, even numbers were supplied in case quick contact was needed at the event. Then, from the moment we entered the event to the moment we left, both members of staff were always around, working hard to organise everything but also answering every single question, no matter how random some of mine might have been.
The legend HeatoN watching the action from the NiP Lounge
The room was set up perfectly with multiple screens showing the live feed, plenty of refreshments, tabels lined with power outputs and ethernet cables as well as interview times posted around the room leaving no one in the dark. It has been said that some events in the past have been closed off toward the writers and press leaving it hard to create good content, but not this one!
Overall, while nothing can be perfect, I feel ESL did a great job on this event, especially considering it is the first and biggest CSGO arena event. I hope to see them continue on in this form in the future and I'm sure even bigger events.