At Twitch Rivals Streamer Bowl in Miami, Football Meets Fortnite
The esports tournament will feature 16 Twitch streamers and 16 NFL players
Although the big game won’t take place in Miami until Sunday, the main event when it comes to esports kicks off tonight with the Twitch Rivals Streamer Bowl. Twitch has teamed up with the NFLPA to create a pro-am–style Fortnite tournament, which will feature 16 duo teams (each consisting of one Twitch streamer and one NFL player), that will stream live from Miami’s Ice Palace Studios during the NFLPA’s Player Party tonight.
“Dropping a major live production into a Super Bowl-city footprint in such a short time frame was delicate, not to mention ambitious for the scope,” says Steven Flisler, senior director, esports product and operations, Twitch. “It also made a difference to integrate a simple competition format that both NFL players and Twitch streamers could easily understand and stream to their audience,”
The three-part series started with NFL players and Twitch streamers in four Fortnite highlight matches, followed by the Draft Showdown (on Jan. 16) in which 16 Twitch streamers competed online for the top pick to draft 16 NFL players as their partners at tonight’s Twitch Rivals Streamer Bowl (which features a $500,000 charity prize pool).
Inside the Studio: Customized Competition Stage
A crew of more than 100 (including Twitch employees and production vendors) has erected a fully customized competition stage inside Ice Palace Studios and is leveraging NEP’s EN2 mobile unit (already stationed in town for the big game) to service the Streamer Bowl production. Since the event is co-located at the NFLPA VIP party, there is no public audience, only an invitation-only viewing area for family and friends of players.
“Our stage is designed to look like an esports tournament stage with a football-themed feel,” says Mitch Rosenthal, director, production operations, esports, Twitch. “We are building premium streaming setups for each player to replicate their home setups and create the best introductory setups possible for NFL players less acclimated to streaming.”
Inside the studio, Twitch has deployed 32 POV player cameras dedicated to the 16 duo teams on stage, along with two Steadicams, two handhelds, and a jib to shoot the action throughout the event.
“For the hosts, we are reviving the signature Twitch Rivals ‘casual competitive’ theme, with a couch for anchors and an analyst area for X’s and O’s breakdown of gameplay,” says Flisler. “Two roving reporters will follow the action from the gaming pods interviewing players and focusing on other elements throughout the show.”
In addition to the English-language coverage, tomorrow night will be the first Twitch Rivals onsite event to have a Spanish-language broadcast. The alternate feed, which will feature three on-air presenters, will be broadcast live on Twitch.tv/TwitchRivals_ES.
Aside from the operation onsite in Miami, pregame segments will be produced by a 20-person crew out of Twitch’s home studio in Burbank, CA, which serves as the home of the majority of Twitch Rivals’ weekly shows.
An Army of Vendors Play Key Role in Miami
Twitch worked with Concom on the overall packaging of the event, and the esports-production aspect is supported by Next Generation Esports (NGE), which was recently acquired by Vindex. The primary production line features a mix of gear from Grass Valley, EVS, Ross, Calrec, and Twitch, with CAT Entertainment Services onsite handling power.
As with all Twitch Rivals events, every participant also produces their own broadcast. To manage all 34 simultaneous broadcasts, in-venue networks are managed by Backstage Networks and linked upstream through redundant copper/fiber and millwave links.
“Having great partners — like Concom, NEP, NGE, and MCW — and a tight-knit crew is key to success,” says Rosenthal.
‘A Fish Out of Water While Building an Aquarium’
The Twitch Rivals tournament series was designed by Twitch to allow streamers to compete in various games from esports favorites to unique titles in one-of-a-kind contests. Traditionally, these tournaments are hosted online, allowing streamers to compete in their home environment. However, this week in Miami, the Twitch Rivals team was tasked with creating a compelling broadcast while still serving the unique needs of each player.
“The thing that makes Twitch Rivals unique is our ability to keep the streamers at home while they compete,” says Flisler. “This gives them the ability to stay in their home environment, where they can continue to stream with minimal impact. But, with events like Streamer Bowl that require them to be onsite, we also maintain their ability to stream to their audience viewing from afar, while also building a full stage for them to compete on. Think of it as taking fish out of water while also building an aquarium that has everything needed to be great content producers and streamers. And food, of course.”
The Streamer Bowl marks the first chapter of what Rosenthal expects to be a big year of for Twitch Rivals’ onsite productions.
“Each event gives us more inspiration and things to learn for future live, onsite productions,” says Flisler. “2020 has just begun, and we just can’t wait to announce future Twitch Rivals events and whom they will feature as players.”
The Streamer Bowl will begin streaming live on Twitch.tv/TwitchRivals (as well as every player’s personal Twitch channel) at 5 p.m. ET tonight from the NFLPA Players Party in Miami. CLICK HERE for a full list of the Twitch Streamers and NFL players competing.