Advanced Analytics, VR Come to ELEAGUE in the Return of CS:GO
Working with Dojo Madness, Turner Sports aims to bring new level of analysis to esports
Turner Sports dove back into the Counter-Strike fray last weekend with the premier of ELEAGUE CS:GO and, with new technology implementations, has placed the first-person shooter at the forefront of esports-broadcasting innovation.
For this new season, Turner is introducing new advanced analytics into the broadcasts, in addition to producing a virtual-reality feed that places viewers into the live event map.
“We want to push, innovate, and talk to people,” says Robert Occhialini, VP, esports products and technology, Turner Sports. “That’s in our DNA. We’re never going to sit on our laurels, and, for esports specifically, we want to be additive to the space. We want to push the space forward. If some of that is bringing in an advanced analytics company to ensure that people can understand the game better and that makes other broadcasters do the same thing, great! We’ve been additive to the space. That’s 100% of our attitude towards this.”
Analytics Bring Deeper Knowledge of the Game
Turner is partnering with gaming-analytics company Dojo Madness, whose Shadow.GG platform is bringing new levels of depth to its CS:GO coverage. Among the highlights are heatmaps, smokemaps, and pathmaps that help illustrate teams’ strategic tendencies, strengths, and weaknesses.
According to Occhialini, this kind of data can be used by producers, directors, and on-air talent to tell a more colorful story of a player’s behavior in the current match and even allows them to compare a player’s performance with previous showdowns.
“You can really get a sense of progression, how game play has changed, and how a team’s strategy has changed,” he explains. “It’s all very graphical.”
Additionally, eye-tracking technology [developed with Dell Gaming and Tobii] will be used for the first time to bring in data on some of the very best CS:GO players. This biometric data is analyzed on Alienware PCs and then used to develop a “gaze overlay” that can demonstrate for viewers exactly where players are looking throughout a match.
Virtual Reality Puts Viewers Right in the Map
Turner Sports and ELEAGUE are also partnering with VR firm SLIVER.tv to introduce the league’s first live coverage of CS:GO matches in a 360-degree cinematic virtual-reality stream. The experience completely immerses the viewer in the map and allows them to roam the environment freely or follow their favorite team or player.
One of the added benefits is that the VR environment includes a segment of the image dedicated to displaying the traditional 2D linear broadcast. It hangs in the experience much like a videoboard.
“I think that combination of the 2D broadcast and the immersiveness of VR creates a real interesting combination and makes them a unique fit for us,” says Occhialini. “We are very proud of our [linear] broadcast, and not having to give that up to enjoy VR is huge.”
Turner Sports has been working on this project with SLIVER.tv for more than six months and even did a proof of concept during the ELEAGUE CS:GO major championship in January. That experiment was kept under wraps and used to lay the groundwork for this new rollout to the public.
The VR stream will be supported across web, iPhone, Android, Gear VR, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Daydream, and Google Cardboard platforms.