We got hold of FACEIT co-founder and Chief Business Officer (CBO) Michele Attisani to quiz him on the company's decision to host all the Minors in London and discuss what teams and fans can expect from these events.
FACEIT announced on Thursday that all the Minors leading up to the next Major will be staged at the same venue, the prestigious Twickenham Stadium, the home of England rugby, in London.
This is an unprecedented move in the history of the Minors and highlights FACEIT's commitment to providing "consistency and cohesion to the Major", with the UK-based company running all the stages behind the $1 million competition, from the opening qualifiers through to the live event, which will be held at the SSE Arena, also in London, from September 20-23.
Read on as FACEIT's Michele Attisani discusses the company's plans for the Minors, the benefits of having all events in the same location, the overlap between tournaments on certain days, the format and more.
Whose idea was it to host all the Minors in one city? Was this something that you proposed or had Valve been considering it, too?
This is something we discussed with Valve. It felt like the right decision to host the Minors in one location. We both want to try and improve the system and bring new life to the Minors. It means more consistency between events and ensures that any team qualifying for the Major through the Minors will not face visa issues.
In FACEIT’s press release, it is stated that having all the Minors in one place will allow for the creation of more content around the teams. What are some of the other benefits of this decision?
We get complete control over the player experience and consistency between Minors. One of the biggest issues with the Minors/Majors system in recent years has been the difference in event quality and organisation when you have Minors hosted all over the world by different organisers. It also means we can tie the Minors and the Majors together in a much more seamless way - they will all have the same FACEIT look and feel.
The added bonus is that players will be able to share the same experience as teams from different regions are able to practise together for the first time. This is a fantastic opportunity for up and coming teams from developing regions.
If you’re hosting all the Minors in the same city, why not combine them into one big event? Was this considered?
We looked into this and liked the idea, but we thought it was too big of a step and we were already making some significant changes. We are open to the idea in the future, but our focus right now is making sure we can help promote and nurture talent from emerging regions. It’s also important to us to have players from different regions playing, relaxing and mixing with each other where usually they wouldn’t have that opportunity. This is a truly global celebration of Counter-Strike, so it is important to ensure that teams from all over the world are represented for fans to get behind.
Two stages will be built for the Minors. Where exactly at the Twickenham Stadium will they be located? Will there be a stage on the pitch, or will they be placed indoors?
The Twickenham Stadium has state-of-the-art indoor facilities away from the pitch, so we are taking advantage of that rather than risking the British weather outdoors. The stadium will offer 24-hour practise rooms through to a gym and executive chef and, of course, the two stages.
Having two stages means we can have matches in quick succession, rather than having teams wait with their setup until the previous match is finished. This cuts down on logistical problems that events of this complexity are sometimes prone to. We’re so excited to make use of professional-standard sporting facilities for our players.
In the past, teams have faced visa issues when trying to attend Minors. What steps will FACEIT take to prevent players from experiencing such issues this time around?
At the moment, we are already processing invite letters for teams to avoid any last-minute issues. With the Minors being in London as well, teams who have made it to the Minors will already be set for the Major. We also made sure that the timeframe from qualifying for the Minors to the Minors itself was big enough for teams to get visas in due time. While we are not in complete control of the teams’ visas for the Minors, we are confident that players who get a visa for the Minor will be also cleared for the Major - meaning we avoid heartbreak for teams who qualify via the Minors only to be denied at the last minute. We are already working on visas for the Legends teams.
Will the Minors be open to public? If so, how many spectators will the venue accommodate?
It’s possible and is a consideration, but competition integrity is our priority and we’re focusing on the experience for the players first and foremost. The Major will, of course, be open to the public, and has the largest capacity our venue will allow - up to 10,000 people. Only General Admission tickets are left, though, so if you are a fan you should grab one fast!
Normally, Minors give up-and-coming casters and analysts the chance to prove themselves. Will FACEIT continue this trend, or will you stick to the broadcast talent that you normally work with?
We’re always looking for new talent and ways to help them get there - it’s one of the things FACEIT is built on. Dan and James started with FACEIT and are our home-grown talent. n0thing, launders, seangares and more have made themselves broadcast regulars in ECS, and our Community Casters competition has opened up new opportunities for up and coming talent as well. As for the talent for the Minors, it’s too soon to be specific, but it’s definitely in our minds. With the amount of CS:GO we’ll be hosting, it would be impossible to do with just one team!
Is there anything that you can reveal about the tournament format for the Minors? Will it remain unchanged from the most recent iterations?
We feel it’s important that all Minors are consistent with each other and that teams from all regions have equal chances, so they will all have the same format. The Minors will be using GSL-style groups (with lower bracket matches and upper bracket final being best-of-three), followed by a four-team best-of-three double elimination bracket.
What was the thought process behind the decision to run Minors concurrently on certain days? Don’t you fear that this overlap will hurt viewership ratings?
From our experience with ECS, we found that longer broadcasts often have bigger viewerships as people stick around for more matches. We’re hoping that by organising the days the way that we have, we can ensure every region gets to play at a time that makes sense for their fans and their time zone and that the crossover between regions will help to cross-promote teams and make them more prestigious and international.
The qualifying process for the Asia Minor will be different from the other regions’. How come we still do not have a unified qualifying system across all regions?
Each region has a different infrastructure. While in Europe and North America teams can easily play other teams within their continent, connection speed from client to the game server is much more complicated in Asia. A team from the Middle East playing against a Chinese team will be extremely difficult as one of them will have an unfair ping advantage, or both teams will have extremely high ping.