OMEGA League highlights, and how to create a memorable Dota 2 tournament

12 min read
The studio for the OMEGA League online tournament is decorated according to the event’s theme – ancient Greece. Photo credit: WePlay Esports

A recap of how WePlay Esports immersed viewers into the world of ancient Greece during OMEGA League.

Esports media holding WePlay Esports and Epic Esports Events hosted a 46-day-long online Dota 2 tournament, OMEGA League. Teams from Europe (including CIS), the Americas, and Southeast Asia were battling for victory in their regions and a prize pool of $650,000.

Thanks to cooperation with media partners in several regions, Dota 2 fans were watching OMEGA League in eight languages. WePlay Esports handled streams in English and Ukrainian, while RuHub worked for the Russian-speaking audience. 

The theme, tech solutions, various esports content were the ingredients WePlay Esports used in the event recipe to turn OMEGA League into a memorable experience. Let’s find out in more detail how the team approached this goal.

The OMEGA League’s mission

August is special for every Dota 2 player and fan, as the year's biggest event, called The International (TI), traditionally takes place this month. Due to restrictions imposed in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, organizers postponed the legendary event to next year. So, OMEGA League organizers attempted to recreate the spirit of TI with teams and talent crews that would participate in the event had there not been a quarantine.

Lead Esports Manager of WePlay Esports media holding Anton “WarLocK” Tokarev: “We wanted to become a decent alternative to The International and continue developing and supporting this discipline.” Photo credit: WePlay Esports
Lead Esports Manager of WePlay Esports media holding Anton “WarLocK” Tokarev: “We wanted to become a decent alternative to The International and continue developing and supporting this discipline.” Photo credit: WePlay Esports

“We wanted to become a decent alternative to The International that was canceled this year, in the first place, and to continue developing and supporting this esport,” notes Lead Esports Manager at WePlay Esports Anton “WarLocK” Tokarev.

Highlights of OMEGA League. Video credit: WePlay Esports

The tournament takes viewers to ancient Greece

Ancient Greece, the home for the Olympic Games, became the tournament theme. OMEGA League, just like the Olympics, allows players from several continents to test their skills and knowledge. 

The broadcast in English was held from two WePlay Esports studios. The first location resembled the Olympus mountain with talents, AKA gods, sitting on its peak. The second studio looked like a temple with a Draft panel (the place where players select heroes for an upcoming match) where talents acted as oracles that could predict which Dota 2 character each team member would pick.

Tech solutions

Various AR-based visual effects were used to make streams more informative and fully immerse viewers into the world of ancient Greece. Set extension, windows with statistics and player information or web camera feed, and Picks and Bans are some of these solutions. During Picks and bans, players choose characters to play with while making it impossible for opponents to pick specific heroes. And a Draft panel is the place for this activity.

 General Producer at WePlay Esports media holding Maksym Bilonogov: “We visually extended the first studio area so that people would see talents sitting at a mountain top with a temple in the background.” Photo credit: WePlay Esports
General Producer at WePlay Esports media holding Maksym Bilonogov: “We visually extended the first studio area so that people would see talents sitting at a mountain top with a temple in the background.” Photo credit: WePlay Esports

We visually extended the first studio area so that people would see talents sitting at a mountain top with a temple in the background. Then we would move to a second studio, a sanctuary, in which players were selecting their heroes. We also enlarged the second studio and added game characters and Picks and Bans there. Another interesting solution was embedded screens with feeds from players' web cameras above each hero pick,” tells General Producer at WePlay Esports Maksym Bilonogov.

Team Nigma and OG players are picking their Dota 2 characters for a match in a virtual temple during the OMEGA League online tournament. Screenshot credit: WePlay Esports
Team Nigma and OG players are picking their Dota 2 characters for a match in a virtual temple during the OMEGA League online tournament. Screenshot credit: WePlay Esports

Entertainment between the matches

The studio hosted popular and internationally acclaimed Dota 2 broadcast talents. Jokes, pranks, and friendly banter kept the audience engaged during the downtime between the matches.

The video below featuring Owen "ODPixel" Davies was produced by WePlay Esports and first shown during OMEGA League:

A hip hop video by Dota 2 caster Owen "ODPixel" Davies. Video credit: WePlay Esports

One of the traditions of TI is the announcement of a new Dota 2 hero that would be added to the existing hero pool in a couple of months. WePlay Esports decided to uphold this tradition by presenting Danko the Dolphin, a hero that maybe one day could become a part of the Dota 2 universe. Danko received a full set of talents, abilities, and was shown in an SFM-movie.

The SFM-video about a new Dota 2 character, Danko the Dolphin, that WePlay Esports created for OMEGA League. Video credit: WePlay Esports

The event went smooth despite pandemic complications 

Ever-changing restrictions by governments, flight cancellations, and the risk of someone getting sick — these are the factors the organizers had to keep in mind when working with talents across the globe.

The team took measures to decrease health risks for hosts, production team members, and everyone involved in the tournament. Employees regularly did tests for coronavirus. Every talent took two tests upon arrival to Ukraine and couldn’t visit the studio until they got their results. 

Viewership results

The Grand Finals match on September 6 between OG and Team Secret, the latter being the OMEGA League winner, gathered 412,391 concurrent viewers. On average, 116,657 people were watching the OMEGA League Immortal Division matches. Independent analytical agency Esports Charts provided the statistics. 

According to data from Nielsen data and measurement firm, 17,904,162 people watched the competition in English on WePlay Esports’s Twitch channel in total. Among them, 6,482,848 were unique viewers. That’s roughly three times more than the Paris city area population in 2020.

 General Manager at WePlay Esports media holding Oleh Humeniuk: “I’m glad that so many people enjoyed watching OMEGA League.”
General Manager at WePlay Esports media holding Oleh Humeniuk: “I’m glad that so many people enjoyed watching OMEGA League.”

Oleh Humeniuk, WePlay Esports General Manager, notes that he takes pride in the effort the team of esports media holding put into tournament production. “I’m glad that so many people enjoyed watching OMEGA League. To me, viewership results prove that esportainment — our signature method of combining esports and entertainment — is working.”

Anton “WarLocK” Tokarev thinks that the new approach to organizing tournaments positively influenced the event viewership. “We suggested hosting contiguous playoffs between tier-1 [Immortal] and tier-2 [Divine] division participants. Teams with the least points from the Immortal division had to play with the strongest teams of the Divine league. Through this new rule, we fueled the audience's interest during the final matches in the Divine league,” explains the lead esports manager.

“OMEGA League was like a marathon for us because we were on the air for a record number of days,” shares Maksym Bilonogov. The OMEGA League Dota 2 tournament started with Open Qualifiers on July 20 and ended with the Grand Finals on September 6. The team handled 37 days of broadcasting.