Now that the ONOG Pokemon Invitational: Presented by GEICO is over, I’d like to give a bit of my own personal review on the event. First, some stats. We broadcasted 14.3 hours of Pokemon over two days. Our peak viewership was over 11,000 on day 2. Per $ spent, the invitational viewership was comparable to that of our Hearthstone live events. However, the social engagement per $ was quite a bit higher. (Go community!) Remember to keep in mind that the expenses for the event consist of much much more than the prize money. Overall, the event was probably a net positive. Going into the Invitational With this invitational, I tried to address many problems I perceived and wrote about within the Pokemon community in my articles about storytelling and growth. These problems included: Lack of storylines or more accurately, the lack of communication of existing storylines to fans Poor promotion of streams High downtime between games Lack of Twitch chat Varying quality of commentators To alleviate some of thse perceived problems, we were able to promote the event in the following ways: Centralized microsite Constant Twitter updates 8 Player Profiles 3 Previews/Recaps 4 Player-made promotional Youtube videos Stickied Survival guide on /r/Pokemon Social media support from Bulbapedia and Smogon Twitch Embed on Bulbapedia Twitch Front Page (on Sunday) Kotaku Coverage Hearthstone streamer /hosts Due to all these methods of promotion, we managed to hold a steady viewership of about 8,000 viewers during the entirety of the Cybertron vs Enosh set. Our rebroadcasts held consistently for about ~500 viewers, which is more than many Regional streams get for their live broadcasts. I think overall, we were very successful in our goals. We had a few people who were against the Invitational when it was first announced, but I haven’t heard any overwhelming negativity regarding the event overall since we aired on Day 1. We had amazing games, amazing casters, and amazing storylines. And not only did we communicate previous storylines, but we created many as well. The most amazing storyline was, of course, aDrive’s run. Though many doubted his battling skills and questioned the decision to invite a “Shiny Hunter”, he unquestionably proved all his haters wrong by defeating both Wolfe and Aaron. With his wins, he brought a ton of exposure to VGC from outside the community. Even Twins pitcher, Phil Hughes, had something to say: https://twitter.com/PJHughes45/status/836365441291403264 Speaking of outside exposure, we received a lot of it from outside communities such as League of Legends and Hearthstone. Suffice it to say, I think we spread a lot of awareness of competitive Pokemon to the outside world. Firsts We also hit a lot of firsts this tournament: First VGC-only event with a corporate sponsor First huge broadcasted invitational First broadcasted all-star match First VGC bo5 First tournament played in a double elimination pools format First time aDrive has played in a bo3 Major Hiccups Of course, this tournament was far from perfect. Here are some of the biggest issues I identified for this event: Starting Too Late: We originally planned out our times to not conflict as much with an MSS going on in NJ. However, the first day especially dragged on, so we lost viewers watching from the EU. Internet Outages: The stream was briefly taken down twice due to internet outages in the production studio. The studio is in DC where a large storm had just passed. Unfortunately, this isn’t something we can account for with the budget and resources we have for such an event. Delays on Day 1: We had a large delay on day 1 before the first match. Part of this was due to our planned 20 minutes of intro and educational content about Pokemon. Right now I feel that this is only slightly too long, but it was a bigger problem due to two reasons. In addition to the intro, there were issues on the players’ side for match 1, which delayed the stream for an additional 10 minutes. We mistimed our first Hearthstone host, and had the /host come in around 5:10 EST where many jumped ship after not seeing a game for 20 minutes. We fixed this on day 2 by having all the /hosts come in during games. Lack of Twitch Front Page on Day 1: Due to unfortunate circumstances we didn’t get the front page listing on Saturday, but this was amended on Sunday. Production Issues There were what I considered minor production hiccups during the stream. Keep in mind that this is the first time the production crew has done such an event and they’re not especially familiar with the game and definitely not familiar with the players. In addition, I’d like to note that we only had about ~1 week to design and program the overlays. I originally had a lot more in mind, but we were forced to work with more bare bones overlays this time. You can expect major improvements and features if we run another event in the future. I’ll summarize the production issues I noticed below: Face Cameras were not Always Correct: This was mostly due to a faulty capture card. A few other times is was due to players’ internet issues. Lower Third Transitions were Slow: Something to be worked on in the future. As casters and the production crew get more familiarized with each other, this issue will get a bit better. Vs Scenes’ Font Sizes were too Large: The Gameplay and Head-to-Head Overlays looked a bit awkward when players with longer names played. Most notably, Aaron “Cybertron” Zheng and Shoma “SHADEviera” Honami. Easy fix here. Inconsistent Music During Games: We played around with the audio during games and figured out something we liked by the semi-finals. Inconsistent Audio/Video Quality from Casters: This is mostly due to the equipment and internet casters were working with. Professional commentators from other esports always have HQ microphones/webcams/internet to work with, so this is a new challenge for us. Hearthstone Hosts In total, we received 5 large hosts from members of the Hearthstone community. The three largest hosts were for 10,000 viewers, 10,000 viewers, and 13,000 viewers. We also received two smaller hosts of 600 viewers each. Note that we never expected all all these viewers to stay on the stream. People questioned on social media why we kept losing viewers and this is by far the primary reason. However, I estimate that approximately half of these people stayed to watch at least one match. And maybe 10% of them stayed on for the long haul. Still, that’s almost 30,000 unique viewers from the Hearthstone scene who were exposed to VGC. Feedback Let us know what you thought about the event. Please provide any feedback for the future. Some specific things I’m looking for are: Face Cams To be honest, I thought there would be universal support for this. It gave us great moments like the Z dances, Aaron’s reaction to Guardian of Aola, and general relatability to the players. However, it turns out that some people didn’t like them. I’m curious as to your thoughts and arguments for/against each position. http://www.strawpoll.me/12434690 HP Bars Hiding HP Bars made the game more fair and competitive. At the same time, however, the 2nd line of text in the game was made unreadable. The information we lost on that 2nd line mostly included What berry each Pokemon ate What item was knocked off The casters did a good job filling in these information gaps, especially as the game went on. We also tried adding small black bars to the bottom instead of cutting off the screen. However, this still blocked a lot of text and we made a judgement call that this looked worse. Do you think hiding HP bars is a net positive or negative? http://www.strawpoll.me/12434693 Best of 5 I was a bit disappointed on how the Bo5 went down (3x 3-0’s) , but it’s something I want to explore more for at least one more tournament. Even though the games didn’t seem close, you could clearly see the losing player trying to adapt in each game, which at least to me, brought a new depth into the game. Let me know what your thoughts on Bo5 both with feedback and by voting in this poll. http://www.strawpoll.me/12435015 Skipping Team Preview Not many people noticed this, but we skipped team preview each game in favor of having the viewers see the casters talk. There’s an argument to be made that Team Preview gives insight to the players’ thought processes. However, we initially decided against it because it’s not the most attractive screen to look at. I didn’t think Team Preview was that important since in traditional Pokemon commentary, the order of the picks is very rarely brought up while they’re picking. http://www.strawpoll.me/12446020 Commentators I thought the commentators were great, especially since it was the first time most of them had commentated VGC on such a large stage. Feel free to give feedback and criticism here as well. What Up Next? Assuming ONOG can push out more content, I’m looking for what kind of content the community would like to see next. Keep in mind of the following restrictions: Everyone in the tournament has to have a capture card-enabled DS. From now on, you’ll also need a webcam and a microphone. For the most part, we have to stream everything. Feel free to spitball ideas whether modest or extravagant. Would you like more invitationals? A Circuit? A League? Be creative.