This year’s ESL One New York, which takes place this coming weekend (October 1-2) at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, will be a milestone event. ESL has partnered with Sliver.tv to bring the first Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) eSports tournament to be livestreamed in virtual reality. The event will bring virtual reality and 360-degree viewing to a variety of devices, including web browsers, Google Cardboard, the Samsung Gear VR and high-end headsets such as the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.
Not only will viewers be able to engage with the tournament like never before, but they’ll also get a spectacular in-game point-of-view. That means they’ll see everything that the players are doing from within the game in real-time, synchronized with the ESL’s live 2D broadcast of the event.
Sliver.tv CEO Mitch Liu spoke with [a]listdaily about the partnership with ESL and how it will be bringing a whole new level of interaction with viewers with the world’s first VR eSports livestream.
How did Sliver.tv and ESL come to partner for this event?
Well, that’s a great story. We were looking for user feedback in the CS:GO subreddit board with lots of great core gamers, and it turned out that an ESL team member was part of that community. They reached out to us, and once we showed them our technology and capabilities, they were blown away by it. Long story short, we decided to team up to do the first-ever VR 360 livestream of a major eSports event.
Why was ESL One New York chosen to be the first VR livestream?
We chose the upcoming ESL One event at the end of this month since it perfectly coincides with Sliver.tv’s launch of our livestream platform. What better than to showcase it at one of the largest CS:GO events in the world and be part of that awesome experience?
What can viewers expect from the VR experience?
We’ll be integrating the 2D program feed directly from ESL broadcast source into our VR world, and rendering in real-time the 360 third-person point-of-view game world via our virtual cameras. Our machine-vision algorithms identify in real-time who the player is in the 2D program feed and automatically selects the most optimal virtual camera located on the game map so that both feeds will be in sync. The viewer is essentially immersed within the VR game world and can just sit back and enjoy a live CS:GO match like never before.
What are the challenges of livestreaming eSports in virtual reality, especially for so many different platforms?
The livestream technology in itself is super challenging, and to be able to compress everything within a real-time pipeline is something we’ve been working on for a year now, and we also patented the technology. Scaling the platform to support tens of thousands of concurrent users across our website, mobile apps supporting Panorama-360 mode, Cardboard and across all of our VR apps is a huge undertaking. As a go-to platform for all things eSports, 360 and VR as well as the destination site for all eSports fans, we must support low-end mobile devices all the way up to the Oculus Rift.
How will Sliver.tv and ESL promote the VR livestream?
We’re relying mostly on ESL to help us on this front. They have millions of followers across their Twitter, Facebook and other social channels to spread the word pre-event. During the event, ESL will be promoting Sliver.tv and the VR experience through analyst desk callouts during their live broadcast. Post event, we plan to create exciting highlight reels, replays with special effects and top plays by teams, players, etc. so fans can revisit their favorite moments at any time.