CaspeRRR: «Not so many tournaments could show themselves with a big prize pool»

Our colleagues from the website have made an interview with a caster of the studio SLTV, Roman «CaspeRRR» Lepehin. In our turn, we present you the translation. Have a nice reading.

The journalist Johan Järvinen has said after the Valve’s announcement that he will not record an hour video but will say that this system is simply better. What is your first impression about Valve’s innovations?

Yes, it is better than it used to be. In global, we have discussed all these topics, for example, in an interview at VK Life. I, Vitalii «v1lat» Volochai, was there together with Viktor «GodHunt» Volkov. We have said that there is a system at usual world championships: tournaments, teams earn points, best teams go to the main championship. Everything is easy and clear. The main thing from the Valve’s announcement is that tournaments are in benefit. Previously, they were not mentioned, players didn’t prepare for them, they were left sometimes even in one day before coming to the venue. Now, it will not be like this because everyone needs qualifying points. Someone will try harder, someone will try less, depending on the situation. But the fact is that the status of tournaments will change.

Generally, everyone in the English-speaking community knows where this idea comes from. Organizers of the third-party tournaments have told about their problems for about two months: teams, which don’t consider tournaments seriously, the absence of sponsors and so on. Which problems did tournaments face in the CIS region?

Everyone felt bad, to tell the truth. Not so many tournaments could show themselves with a big prize pool as Epicenter did with its $500 000. But even this money doesn’t look fine at a time when there are $3 000 000 for a Major. I don’t even speak about TI, where all prize money in a year are multiplied and up for grabs. Nobody prepared for third-party tournaments.

These one hundred and two hundred of dollars of the general prize pool are not the money for the teams, which have thousands and thousands of dollars in the «income» column at Liquipedia and some of them have even millions of dollars.

Will this system help earnings of organizers and to engage sponsors?

I think, yes. This will look like a usual sport. It will be more predictable. This is the point of view how an investor comes. It is important for him to see a stable scene, a scenario, which you can forecast over half a year or a year. Previously, it was totally random: everyone reshuffled, it was a mess. At first, there were three Majors, then two Majors, then TI — some fuss. Now, I hope that everything will become stable. Yes, there will still be reshuffles but the predictability will be higher due to the qualifying points. You will predict beforehand who will have to win and what. And a status of the tournaments will attract serious partners.

LD has mentioned at Reddit that Valve will limit the number of Majors and Minors. Have you heard something about that?

In global, I see no sense in this. First and foremost, the balance of points for Majors and Minors have to be regulated. I can’t say that they say now: «We will give a Major title to everyone, who has $500 000 of the prize pool», and we will see a thousand of Majors. Not so many organizers can afford to give a half of a million to players. It doesn’t matter that they will receive another half a million, they will give it too. Organizers don’t have profit from this money. There are a small number of such companies: Epic Esports Events with Epicenter, ESL, guys from China, who can afford it. Maybe, Starladder, if it wants, and theoretically DreamLeague, if they have a reason.

What amount of tournaments per year will be enough with the support of the developers? Valve has worked on the balance of Majors for two years and every time there were unsatisfied people.

Much depends on a system of qualifications, how much time they will take. Previously, everyone suffered because there were tournaments besides Majors. There were no questions about Majors. Problems happened with third-party tournaments because there was a mess. And now, when these tournaments become Majors, everything will change. Three Majors — and everything will be normal. And many Minors can be made. Strong teams will try to win at Majors and teams, which are a bit weaker, will try to collect these points at smaller championships. This will be some kind of the natural selection. Everything will be divided in a natural way eventually.

Is there a need for the control over these tournaments from Valve? What else do they have to evaluate besides a prize pool and an amount of qualifications?

I can refer to the blog of Mark Averbukh, who has mentioned that the sum of money in the prize pool is not the main rate. A level of the tournament’s preparation, a scene, on which everything happens, a broadcast, which we see on the web is the main factor. This is an amount of a backstage work, which a viewer doesn’t usually see.

And if we simply make a $500 000 tournament at a basement, it will be difficult to call such tournament The Major. On that score, I would like Valve to make a quality control.

How has this control to be done? Will organizers have to be asked for some information or will conclusions have to be done on the actual basis and such tournaments will not simply receive the title of The Major next time?

If we are talking about active organizers, there are no questions to them. They have been working for a long time and know what to do. If there are some mistakes, they will be asked about them. But everything is not so easy with people, who will enter the scene. Valve has the whole system of launching your tournament inside the game. You must have a confirmed website, a bank information, you can be asked about a prize pool, maybe, some previous projects. It’s not that simple. You can’t just come and say that you have a half of a million dollars and host a Major. You will have to prove for a long time that you deserve this. This will not be easy.

Is the situation, when organizers will save at a production and supplying of tournaments to invest in a prize pool and to receive the title of The Major or The Minor?

This will be the last tournament for them then. I see no sense in this. This is not attractive in the long term. Yes, you had saved a money but, as result received lots of negative feedbacks. These organizers are not dealt with for a long time. Some of them were fired at once at The Shanghai Major. This is how the system should work. And if someone wants to try to do this, I will wish a good luck to him. But I would not recommend.

Should criterions be different for Minors and Majors?

I look at CS:GO Minors and they don’t differ a lot. Yes, they are slightly more simple but this is still good. You never say that they are done using whatever has been available. So yes, this is, also, worth to be worked on.

Vitalii «v1lat» Volochai has named the sum, which amounts $1,5 million dollars to host a tournament, which is equal to the level of Majors. How real is it? Is there a need for Valve to support in a financial way besides the support of prize pools?

I have not worked with an accountancy, so I can’t say that this sum is true or not. But I think that Vitalii is close to the truth. And the question about a financial support is correct. Because it is not that great problem to give 500 thousand for the prize pool. The problem is how you will compensate your expenses and how the tournament will look like as a result. You would like to receive not an odd 500 thousand, which you will give away but a financial and moral support to realize your ideas. This would be cool but I don’t know how Valve will behave in such case. I know that they mostly work with players and for players. But some organizers struggle a lot. For example, a sponsorship will not be odd for The Summit.

Maybe, Valve will return the old system with cases. Because what will they do with them? There will be no usual Majors with 15 treasures in each of them. Of course, they will have to release some cases. I want to believe that earnings from, at least, some of them will cover partly organizers’ expenses. They can simply give cases to everyone. Or they can distribute their Battle Pass among organizers. Let’s say, ESL will receive it in autumn, Starladder — in winter, Epicenter — in spring. But I think that this, probably, will not happen. It is likely to be just cases. I am sure that they have already thought where they will place their cosmetics.

Anthony «scantzor» Hodgson and many others have raised the question about invitations. Because organizers can invite to their tournaments everyone they wish. ACE can receive The Major and invite their 10 teams, which will earn points. This moment has to be regulated or this is the question of the natural selection?

Valve must control, at least, their amount not to allow a total domination, let’s say, in China. You have invited 5-6 your teams and then someone has got upper through the bracket — and that’s good. This should not be. I am mostly for the cancellation of this system with invitations. They work only for the strongest teams and there are 4-5 of them in the world. The rest teams must fight. As the history shows, there is always a mess and the winner is always different.

And what about a viewers’ voting, which Epicenter used the last time?

There should be no such things in theory. Let’s add KBU to the voting and see, who will win. When this was run by The Summit, I liked it. Because this was The Summit, he has such a format. This is a fun tournament and everyone understands this, including participants and organizers. This is incorrect, particularly, if we are talking about a competitive part. If this is simply about to invite the favorite team to a tournament, where it, theoretically, will win some money — okay. But when the fate of other teams, their coming to The International depends on it, because someone will lose points, this is not right.

Tournaments, which suit criterions of the prize pool and even qualifiers but are hosted in unusual formats, stay apart. For example, WESG. Should it take part in this «contest»?

Points are given to players. And the question about WESG is disturbing me too. From one hand, this is interesting and adventurously. Because only national teams take part in it and, in fact, all clubs are represented by international rosters. You can go there and earn some points. It, also, has a great prize pool, TNC earned $800 thousand for the 1st place last time.

In terms of the prize pool and organizing, I would give The Major to WESG, because it is really cool and everything was hosted really good. And if not, this will be simply a tournament with lots of money.

And what about unusual tournaments like Captain’s Draft or Elimination Mode? Their organizers have thought about regional qualifiers and even LAN finals. Can they be added to this system?

I would not add. This is like playing football with two balls and giving points in a cup for this. I have such association. There are other rules, which mean other winners, everything will differ. And I would not give points for such tournaments.

But this will kill them. Teams will have no time and desire to take part in them, everyone will be farming points.

Yes, it, probably, will be so. How sad this would not be. In most cases, all these funny tournaments don’t survive for a long time. I am good to CD and Elimination Mode, I like everything in them. But this is just an entertainment but not a competition.

Has South America deserved its own qualification or it is too early for them to take part in every tournament?

The point is to gather the strongest teams in the region to determine the strongest — it is logical. South America has a great audience in Dota. The game is really popular there, jokes about Peruvians at American publics are like jokes about Russians at European «pubs». There are a lot of them, they play, they popularize the game. That’s why they have the right to prove that there are cool teams among them. For example, one cool team explained Clement «Puppey» Ivanov that it had come not for a reason. Then, it almost proved this to EG. As a result, you can’t say this team doesn’t deserve. Few teams can give such battle for these grants, having appeared from nowhere. We joked some time ago that they were training at home with weighting — their ping is about 150. And they came to the LAN tournament: «Oh, everything is pressed so fast and could we do this earlier?». They are loaded, they are exciting, starving to victories. I like such things all the time.

And what about the hot topic of casters? Valve tries to balance studios (we are talking not only about Russian-speaking community) for their tournaments. Is a control required for this sphere or it can be left only for TI?

As much as I love my job, I can’t understand why there is so much excitement for our casting activity. As for me, there are 8-10 top casters, who are on the same level right now. I would not mark anyone, all of them deserve to cast the best tournaments and finals. So I can’t understand the hype around a choice of particular people. I would not jump into this, tournaments must choose who they want to see at their competitions. I am normal with this. You can’t invite everyone to The International and lots of people work in this sphere. Not 7, not 8 and not 10. Lots of workers, who cast a lot and do something in addition.

But I think that when we are talking about casting, we have to look at how he is casting and not at videos he does. This doesn’t affect on your casting level, how sad this would not be. Reading of books affects more on it.

If we are talking only about the points system. LD has said that it has lots of holes for various tricks. What has left misunderstandable for your from this announcement?

I have not understood the statement «the closer the tournament is to TI, the more points it will receive» and «the bigger the prize pool is, the more points it will get». This is strange and absurdly. If you want to make a differentiation of points, you will be better to make it like ELO — the skill rate at the tournament. The stronger the line-up of participants is, the bigger amount of points they will be able to receive — this would be cool. This is strange to give them only for a big prize pool.

And it is really strange to give more points to tournaments, which are closer to TI. Autumn tournaments are fully depreciated. They were not so much appreciated in the past. All people have just returned from vacations, nobody wants to play. And everything is more complicated now. Maybe, if the gradation is small, about 10%, everything will be normal.

Is there something we will lose with the new system?

I don’t think so. We can lose a status of a tournament, a status of The Major. Because Valve has done a great job for the media support of these championships: lots of the additional content in the game, the official page, invitations with five-minute intervals. I don’t think that they will focus on all these and do everything so juicily. Maybe, the weight of the tournament in the eSports community will suffer from this.

As much as I know, seven casters will be working at TI. Is this number enough to work on?

There, also, were seven persons last year. At that time, we cast with analysts to unload the schedule. In theory, this should not be. There must be the distribution of responsibilities. I don’t care, I can cast 24 hours per day if I am supposed to and there are no other options. But if you want to do everything beautiful and right, analytics must analyze and casters must cast. There must not be the situation when people are working very hard and sleep three hours per week.

First of all, this affects the quality. I feel that I start to «drift» after the sixth hour being in a broadcast. You start making more mistakes and bloopers, noticing fewer details. And people mention this but you can’t explain everyone that you are live for 15 hours. I have a friend, who tried this and after three hours, he wrote: «I don’t understand how you do this».

Sam «Bulba» Sosale said in a podcast with Peter «PPD» Dager that this is the patch of and he is sure about them. Are you sure about VP?

There were a few moments when I was sure about The most memorable one was in Boston. And when I saw how they were leaving the stage, I was stunned. But they were objectively not lucky to face EG so early. I thought in Kiev that they would get to a good place but I didn’t guess that they would reach the final. Yes, they played very well. And before The International… I am not a superstitious person but I know that I always evoke evil and something strange happens with my forecasts. Or they exactly come true or the opposite things happen.

I think VP will get to the final and then, everything can happen.

Is there a team, which is not supposed to show serious participations and you see them to have a potential at this TI?

I like the roster of Fnatic in terms of performance. I remember how they played in Southeast Asia. Despite the fact that TNC won, Fnatic was good too. And these Peruvians from Infamous can do everything. They can come with a drive, destroy a couple of strong teams and then, get to high places with a help of cool impression.

Do you share a skepticism about OG?

They have to stop winning, give it a rest! Let others play too. They, of course, are nice but even so!

I am consistently sure about few teams: Liquid, OG, EG, VP. They will get somewhere high. Maybe, some of them will face in the final if there are no curiosities. Because these teams have the strongest players in the world. The only Secret can join them. I am not talking about Chinese teams, they are very unstable. There, certainly, will be some sensations. Some unpredictable elimination match will, probably, happen. But I don’t think that the TI’s winner will be some kind of surprise. I don’t believe that there will be new Wings, who will beat everyone. This one will be someone from old-timers.

English-speaking casters have recently discussed the need of a broadcast for newcomers. What do you think, how necessary is it?

I agree with them but these translations have to be separated. I tried to express my thoughts in a more common way as much as I could but I can’t explain all the time: «this is a knife of PA, a 6-second slowdown». This would be strange. The main audience would be rejected. And newcomers, who have just launched the game, would be interested in this. I am trying to follow some new games. I run Twitch and watch HotS, Overwatch, Quake — and don’t understand a half of what casters are talking about. Even with my 20 years experience of playing computer games, I don’t understand a half of terminology and this troubles me as a viewer. I know that if I spend a week or a month and watch, I will get into it. But I want to start having pleasure from the viewing as fast as possible.

Is there someone in CIS, who would be able to work on such broadcast?

Nikita «4ce» Kotkov can sit to do this, he likes to tell about different details. We with Nikita would work on it, I like to give some useful information too. A couple of persons can be, also, found. You have to be in the game at the good level, so I offer your candidacy — you have to explain the gaming process most of the time there. And, of course, jokes. There should not be two professors at the broadcast. Someone like Day9, who can give his two cents, must be involved.

Every year Valve prepares surprises for players and viewers at TI: updates, heroes and so on. Which surprise are you waiting this year?

I am waiting for the tournament as a small kid, first of all, to see what they will do with the game. There have already been leaks of the draft interfaces and I am sure that this is even less than one-fifth from what Valve has prepared. They showed elements of the augmented reality last time, which looked really great. I don’t expect a new hero. It will be released, played for a month, it will be imbalanced and then, he will be nerfed. In general, I am waiting for cool visual things for broadcasts.