Bartosz “a.wake” Lorenc: What do you do between events? Do you work on any other projects?
David “LP” Goman, Beyond The Summit: I run Beyond the Summit. That means I pretty much work on everything! Hiring new employees, training staff, selling sponsorships, planning new events, interacting with the community,streaming, setting up production equipment, I pretty much do a bit of everything.
Who came up with the idea of cs_summit? Was it a no-brainer or did you have any doubts before organizing your first CS:GO event?
cs_summit was my brainchild! It was definitely a no-brainer for me. When we want to run a Summit, there are really two key ingredients we look for: a great spectator game, and established, fun players and personalities. CS:GO is blessed with both of those in spades, so it was an easy decision. Finding dates that work and convincing teams to participate was much harder, but we found a way to make it work.
Beyond The Summit is well-known from their DOTA 2 tournaments. Did that experience help you with running a CS:GO event?
Absolutely. cs_summit would not exist if it weren’t for our experience running events in DOTA. We wouldn’t have had the brand power to attract good teams / talent, and we wouldn’t have had the technical / creative know-how to produce a great product for the CS:GO community. As DOTA fans can tell you, our first few DOTA Summits had great moments, but also had a lot of problems and mistakes along the way. BTS has such a large presence and does so much other stuff in DOTA that I think fans were more willing to give us second chances, but I’m not sure if the CS community would have been as forgiving given our lack of track record there.
What are your top priorities and tips to bulid a successful event?
Your number one priority has to be to run an event that plays to your strengths. BTS has great relationships with players and talent. We know how to entertain our fans, and we do casual extremely well. We’re not experienced running large ‘stadium’ events, and while we’ve pioneered some cool #productionValue features for DOTA in the past, it’s not really a major focus of ours. That’s why we decided to run a very casual tournament out of a house.
Your second priority should be to understand the community. You have to get to know their wants, needs, desires. What are current organizers doing well? Where are they failing? How can you fill the void? If you try to ram an event product down the community’s throat without doing proper research, you will inevitably fail.
What are the main difficulties of organizing a high-quality tournament in a house?
Honestly, for us, the biggest difficulties are purely logistical in nature. The Summit venue is a pretty damn big house, and it still feels very small. When we first moved there, we ran into a lot of practical challenges we hadn’t foreseen. At the first Summit event for DOTA, we didn’t even think about how much garbage 80+ people in one house would generate. By the end of the event, the garage literally smelled like a sewer because it was overflowing with trash bags.
LA gets really hot during the summers, and a small room with 5-10+ PCs, monitors, and players can be oppressive, even with the air conditioning at full blast. So we had to get creative with installing additional window A/C units. Of course, those tax the power grid heavily at the house, and inevitably resulted in power outages at the worst possible moments.
We’re a pretty well-oiled machine at this point, but we had to make a lot of mistakes along the way to get to where we are now.
I could see some similarities between cs_summit and Homestory Cup organized by TaKeTV. Was it some kind of inspiration for you?
Absolutely. Homestory Cup is a huge inspiration for us. We love what they’ve done in SC2 and Hearthstone, and we’re delighted to even be compared to them. We do think we’ve managed to differentiate ourselves significantly through the creative videos / content we develop around the Summits, but we totally get the comparison.
Were you happy with how cs_summit 2 went? Personally, it has been the most entertaining tournament I’ve ever seen.
I was really happy. The first cs_summit we ran into a lot of unforeseen issues with match medic, servers crashing, etc. Our technical team worked overtime and did a fantastic job at running a virtually flawless event from a tech point of view.
As always, our creative team delivered some dank content, and the CS community really seemed to appreciate it. We’re already on to the cs_summit 3.
How much time does it take to set up such an event?
It’s hard to calculate exactly, but we’re a company of about 20 people, and I would say the majority of the company spends at least 2-4 weeks in the leadup to a Summit getting ready.
Do you plan to run an event where people can actually come and cheer for their favorite teams?
Yes, we are actively planning to run a live event in 2018. It may not be for CS:GO initially, but I do dream that we’ll have the opportunity to work on a live event for CS at some point in the future.
Have you ever thought about crowdfunding to increase the prize pool of your competition?
We have thought about it, since we’ve had a ton of success doing that for Smash Summit. However, I think it’s a lot harder to get teams invested in the idea of participating in fan voting than it is to get individual players. The CS Summit is frankly a much smaller event in the CS ecosystem than the Smash Summit is in the Smash ecosystem, and realistically I don’t really see teams wanting to campaign for fans to vote them in.
Ultimately, it’s a really cool idea, but we would have to figure out a good way to incentivize fans to contribute beyond just basic merchandise. That’s a challenge we haven’t solved yet, but we’re definitely open to ideas if anyone has some!
At both cs_summits we could see top teams like SK Gaming, Team Liquid or Ninjas in Pyjamas but there were also smaller, less popular squads eg. Vega Squadron or GODSENT. How does the process of inviting teams look like? What requirements do teams have to meet to be considered as potential participants?
There’s no particular requirements as far as our invites go. We basically look to invite teams which are (a) really good and/or (b) really entertaining. Some teams (like SK) check both boxes, while others may only check one. For the most part, we have two goals: get as many fan favorite personalities to the event, and make it as a good a competition as possible.
There was some criticism on social media when Beyond The Summit announced that OpTic was replaced by Torqued. Why did you choose Torqued over eg. Renegades?
We decided to invite Torqued very last minute, when it became clear OpTic wouldn’t be able to finalize their roster in time to compete in the event. We ultimately went with Torqued because we felt they had a good mix of star power and interesting storylines.
There are tons of opportunities for teams to prove their worth in the CS:GO community, and for us, we are focused on making sure we run a tournament that’s entertaining to the fans. Sometimes that means inviting a team that might be a bit ‘worse’ on paper but who will add a lot more in terms of entertainment value.
We also did truly believe that Torqued could cause some upsets, and I was happy to see them prove some of their haters wrong by taking down Vega and almost taking a map off Liquid 14-16.
What do sponsors think about laid-back style of cs_summit? Were there any companies that did not like your idea of a tournament?
Sponsors who have done the event love it. We have much higher fan engagement than the average ESL/DH/SLTV/PGL/etc tournament, probably because the product is very unique and feels less sanitized.
However, it can be challenging to sell the event to a brand who is new to the esports space or has never watched before. If they don’t already get esports, getting our event is a lot harder than getting a roaring crowd, flashing lights, and casters screaming their lungs off.
What goals did you set after the 1st cs_summit? Did you achieve them during the 2nd edition?
Our goal after the first cs_summit was to run another one, and to do a much smoother event, especially on the technical side. We definitely achieved that in my opinion, as we had virtually no technical pauses, server crashes, etc. Eefren (our head server admin) and Blaze (our head tournament admin) deserve massive credit for their role in ensuring a smooth event.
What are your goals and objectives with cs_summit 3?
I really want to get some of the other big name CS teams to cs_summit3. I’d love to see PaszaBiceps or Guardian on the couch. It’s totally understandable that those guys haven’t come in the past, but we’re gonna do everything we can to try to get some new fan favorites to the next edition!
Did cs_summit 2 break the viewership record set by the first edition?
Yup, it did! Our peak English viewership for cs_summit was about 116k for NiP vs C9, and we crushed that this time around with Liquid vs C9 averaging close to 130k for almost the whole grand finals.