ESL announces crowd interference measures for IEM Katowice
ESL has announced that a series of measures will be put in place at IEM Katowice to prevent the crowd from interfering with the matches.
In a Reddit post, Michal "Carmac" Blicharz, VP of Pro Gaming at ESL, addressed the divisive debate about whether soundproof booths are necessary for live CS:GO tournaments. The discussion has raged on for years but became a hot topic at the ESL Pro League Season 10 Finals, where Andreas "Xyp9x" Højsleth appeared to gain information on the whereabouts of an opponent in the semi-final series against mousesports by listening to the crowd's reaction while he checked an angle on Overpass.
The Astralis member played down that situation after the match, explaining that there is a clear difference between fans giving away positions or sensitive information and getting loud and reacting preemptively to a potential play. He also called on tournament organisers to set up soundproof booths to eliminate "undue outside sound interference".
But this is anything but a simple issue. Besides impacting the fan experience, booths also come with increased costs that go into the region of hundreds of thousands of dollars. In a recent HLTV Confirmed episode, Blicharz had revealed that a pair of "proper booths" like the ones used for Dota 2's The International "cost around $700,000 to $800,000". Building in-house can reduce those costs to approximately $300,000, according to him, but multiple booths would still need to be constructed to make sure that all tournaments hosted by ESL and DreamHack over the year are played in the same conditions.
Blicharz wrote that ESL "fundamentally believes in the chemistry of the players and the audience", which "raises the experience on an emotional level" and creates moments that become "meaningful and memorable". According to him, tournaments lose some of that experience with booths, which is why the company will tackle the issue of crowd interference from a different angle.
"We will be running PSA videos and we will talk to them via the stage MC in order to educate them on what we think is appropriate and what isn’t," the ESL chief explained.
"Cheering before a knife kill, cheering during trigger discipline moments, cheering for things the player shouldn’t be able to see, etc. are moments when the audience waits until the deed is done.
"Establishing a fan etiquette in any sport is not easy, but I think we can get there."
In case the audience fails to abide by these rules, ESL will follow Chad "SPUNJ" Burchill's suggestion and disable x-ray vision on the arena monitors for a minimum of 20 minutes after every infraction. Fans can also be ejected in extreme situations.
IEM Katowice will run from February 24 through March 1, with $500,000 on the line. Sixteen sides, including all teams who are currently ranked inside the top 10, will be taking part in this tournament, which will begin with a double-elimination group stage, which will be played backstage from Monday to Thursday.