Former professional footballer Nicklas Bendtner, or Lord Bendtner as he is known to fans of English football club Arsenal, made a surprise appearance at the BLAST Premier Fall Finals CS:GO in November this year.
The Danish footballer joined the tournament to participate in the show match alongside some of the best players in the international CS GO competitive scene, as part of top entertainment in the packed grand final of Blast Premier 2022 Fall edition.
The grand final drew massive plaudits for organiser Blast, a sharp turnaround for the company which had been blasted by CS:Go fans prior to 2019. How did they start to win back the fans?
The story begins in 2018. Back then, RFRSH Entertainment started the year as the owner of both BLAST Pro Series and one of CS GO giants from Denmark, Astralis.
The BLAST Pro Series included six teams and a jam-packed weekend schedule, with a single best-of-one round-robin bracket and a best-of-three grand final between the top two teams, along with a set of one-vs-one show matches.
The best-of-one games were played and televised at the same time, as part of RFRSH’s efforts to favor the live audience above those watching from home, as well as to make participation more convenient and less taxing for the teams engaged.
Spectators at the tournament, on the other hand, felt that the format significantly reduced the tournament’s competitive worth at the time. Coupled with Blast’s recent string of issues, CS:GO gamers were growing increasingly displeased with this promotion.
RFRSH sold their CS:GO team and parted ways with its problematic CEO, Nikolaj Nyholm, in late 2019. Thus beginning a new era of leadership and direction for the organization.
In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, BLAST redesigned its model in early 2020, creating the BLAST Pro Series and introducing BLAST Premier as its replacement.
It was exactly what the community wanted: best-of-three matches in a double elimination bracket comprising the greatest teams in the world, and a flowing series of events leading up to the World Final.
The organizer of the Spring Series 2020 in London, BLAST, underwent a significant transformation for the event. Their studio was rebuilt, resulting in a significant improvement in the livestreaming quality of the event.
Their recent events have been spectacular from a viewer’s perspective, and they continue to improve the format and live experience.
Dota competition is becoming increasingly concerning
When it comes to video game tournaments under Valve’s brand, one of their most popular titles is under fire owing to the production of the organizer they have chosen.
While BLAST continues to garner accolades for its excellent CS GO production and tournament management that prioritizes fan feedback, PGL has faced criticism from Dota fans worldwide, primarily for its handling of The International 11, which took place a few months ago.
When PGL revealed their decision to accept the first ever sponsorship in TI in September, many Dota fans around the world were disappointed.
Fans complained that the engagement of sponsors is a gesture of contempt toward loyal fans who have been financing TI’s prize pool through the purchase of Dota 2 Battle Passes since 2013.
In addition, the quality of PGL’s production was poor and slammed by Dota 2’s over-zealous fans. One sore point was the lack of a specialised studio in TI 11. Instead of bringing the production crew and delivering it directly to Singapore. PGL chose to handle everything from afar.
This resulted in production difficulties that viewers may have experienced due to the remote connection and hardware limitations.
Spectators became even more apprehensive about the future of professional Dota when it was revealed that BTS will not be working on the next DPC and Majors and instead, PGL would be the organizer in charge of the following season.
Ultimately, many believe that PGL’s poor production contributed to this year’s significant drop in viewership for The International.
If PGL wants to win back Dota 2 fans, they could certainly learn from the experience Blast had with CS:GO by paying attention to the needs of the fans first.