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RE: Why UK CSGO LANs are a problem!

by GumpsterJanuary 17, 2017

I’m not one to reply to such things, however, I thought this seemed like an interesting subject to touch upon because it is often something people debate about, be it on Facebook, Twitter or some other form of posting places (such as forums).  Replying in this form usually is perhaps irresponsible and patronising, but this video was very much off the mark, that without responding, people would continue throwing around the usual arguments without knowing what they were talking about.

Earlier this evening, a CS:GO player named Nyne “Gratz” Gratz decided to take to Twitter to post a keen YouTube video making his feelings known on why UK LAN events pale in comparison to the wider World scene, citing that UK LANs were just as bad as Pakistan or Indian LANs. You can view the video below about what he believes are the real issues. After an influx of negative feedback and corrections being thrown his way, the video was removed.

I got in a few minutes, and the moment he said “I’ve never been to a UK LAN” was where I felt he made a big mistake. To berate the UK LAN circuit without going to one, signals to me that you are clueless, you will spout nonsense, and trott out the tried and tested “well door sales means £x so surely they can afford the prize pool to be £x amount.” which strangely enough, a few minutes later he does manage to bring it to the table.

I will have an open mind, I help shape one of those UK LANs he mentions, and constructive criticism has always been welcomed. Just for reference, the UK LAN Circuit is far from perfect, which means I certainly believe that improvement is needed, but attacking the UK LANs without specific information or context of why they came to be then you are not going to get anywhere especially by disillusioning those organisers from listening to your point of view.

I have listened to all of his video and dissected some of his major points, and will present them with a counter argument.

India & Pakistan have better run LANs than the UK?

Firstly, this is incredibly unfounded. Our LANs are not perfect, but at least our LAN events have decent tables, chairs, internet, air conditioning, and run successfully that they don’t have to be cancelled mid-way through the event.

LANs in India….. back in 2012 (Photo Credit: HLTV/Moscow Five)

To say such a thing, insults LAN events in this country, whether it’s Multiplay or epic.LAN. We do a lot more for the UK, both behind the scenes and in front of it, than most other countries. We are still a long way off from Dreamhack esque events which have thousands and thousands of people attending, but our LAN events are mostly adequate for what you get for your money.

Camping Shouldn’t be offered at LAN events?

Contrary to your belief that camping is out dated, and isn’t as popular with people, it is one of the few things that should be offered at events, I know Multiplay charge for what is now, “indoor camping” where you can set up a tent inside one of the halls and sleep, but epic.LAN has always offered camping as a free alternative to hotel costs or sleeping on the floor. This is because it’s long been part of the LAN tradition, and stemmed from the fact that LAN events are like Music festivals, where people who go to Glastonbury, Reading/Leeds or the V Festivals they can camp for a small additional cost.

epic.LAN Camping…. seems popular for a few attendees (Credit: epic.LAN Gallery)

Camping is still pretty popular with epic.LAN attendees and simply stopping such a service would be bad, LAN events have to cater for a wide variety of people in every walk of life, so why not have camping as an extra to LAN? You have that choice, you can go to a hotel, or you can camp.

Door Sales Vs Prize Pools

In both your Multiplay cases and epic.LAN cases, you neglect to mention anything around your context here and your biggest mistake is simply going for the highest price and calculating by a certain amount of participants. Multiplay have a Early Bird Discount period, and they also have a reward structure with Silver & Gold discounts, most of which will be used in the early stages of selling such tickets. In epic.LAN’s case, we have a similar system, so we have an Early Bird Discount period where tickets are £55 and then for our long term community members and/or those who go to most of our LANs we have small discounts you can use and apply to your tickets. It quite simply isn’t a £x amount = £x amount because you don’t do your research and take that into account.

The one problem I had with the epic.LAN segment of your video was when you say….. “epic.LAN are making £11,100 profit when all tournaments are full at their 32 team cap”. If we had 32 teams for CS:GO, Dota2, Overwatch, then basically we would be over our capacity that we have set for epic.TWENTY (which stands at 470 participants).

The long tried and tested argument simply doesn’t work, and whilst epic.LAN does a good job of having safe and secure prize triggers, without sponsorship, we could be ending up making a loss on some of our events. The hilarious kicker was when you say “well it doesn’t cost £10k to rent a venue”. I’m pretty sure to rent the NEC you are looking somewhere close to 6 figures, although that one will need a bit more research, but the NEC is certainly not cheap to use several halls of it’s complex. Meanwhile I could obviously go into greater detail around epic.LAN’s funding, but you’d be looking at what we use not just in terms of halls for BYOC, but overall rooms, you are pushing £20k+ for KCC. Sometimes you need to remember that we don’t just cater for CS:GO but our own core casual community, and the other Esport titles in the UK.

Here are the costs that you simply do not see that are included in the ticket price:

Venue Hire 5 – 7 days (The Biggest Cost)
Staffing Overheads
Internet
Table Hire
Chair Hire
Tuck Shop
Transportation Hire
Insurance
Wristbands
Maps
Prize Pools (if without sponsorship)

That is also purely some of those costs, for Multiplay, it will include such things as a Paramedic being on site for the four days, and some of the additional Health & Safety costs too.

North Vs South

Once again this seemed to pop up in your argument about how far it takes you to travel to a UK LAN event. God forbid it take you more than 4 hours. Birmingham outside of London is one of the easiest places to get to in the country. If I wanted to head to the NEC, and bare in mind I simply don’t drive, I would need a direct train up from Plymouth to Birmingham New Street which is 3hrs 30mins (roughly) and then a further 15 minute wait for a train to Birmingham International, from there I simply walk from train station into the NEC. The same can be said for almost all major cities in the UK with getting to the UK. Now you go on to say “if you live up in Scotland, you are basically screwed”, well yes and no, but where do you want these LANs to go? Your house?

Is Birmingham not central for everyone? Answers on a postcard! (Photo Credit: UK Campsite Search)

Birmingham is literally dead central to the country (it isn’t but it is as close as you will get it). LAN events in the UK have only that particular part of the country to go to, why because it’s favourable for everyone really, as it’s equal distance for most people.

Kettering is a different prospect, and as explained about where I live, it’s just like Scotland, the South West is very difficult to get out of up country (especially if using public transport). Unfortunately the LAN venues around the midlands may not offer what epic.LAN need, so in reality, it’s a case of being pragmatic and working out long term where should LANs be based.

Hotel & Travel Expenses Should be paid

I would love that….. but placing myself back in the real world, these are community level LAN events in the UK. If you want your travel and hotel paid, then either a) become at least good enough in the UK Scene, where ESL UK already cover this through the Premiership or b) become really good enough, because even some events in Europe don’t offer those basic requirements yet. Neither UK LAN is big enough or profitable enough to offer that kind of service.

Prize Pools should be higher

This is one thing that almost everyone can agree with, however the difficulty here is you picked two poor examples to show it.

insomnia58 & UK Masters Season 1 – £7,500 + £12,500
insomnia59 & UK Masters Season 2 – £5,000 + £20,000

insomnia58 is Summer LAN, so traditionally it is the largest LAN of the year for iSeries, and thus a bumped up prize pool is shown with £7,500 up for grabs in the BYOC. However, Multiplay have also ventured into the online league space, so actually for CS:GO at that particular LAN event it was a combined £20,000. Pretty good if you asked me.

insomnia59 is Winter LAN and traditionally the smallest of the three iSeries events, going by that, Multiplay accurately reflect their prize pool to make, no point in making a loss on those prizes. However, with the addition of UK Masters, Multiplay have gone £5k better than their previous event with the £20k up for grabs. Impressive. I am by all means not saying it’s perfect and I am one of the more critical people about Multiplay, but you need to understand a LAN event has to cater for many different Esport titles, it isn’t all about CS:GO and sometimes, the developers of other games such as Riot pump in additional prize money to help suppport the UK ecosystem.

Meanwhile for epic.LAN, epic.SEVENTEEN for the first time in epic.LAN’s history saw £3,000 paid out to teams in a particular title. No title had reached the £3k base prize pool, and in reality it still hadn’t at epic.SEVENTEEN, but epic.LAN received some sponsorship for that, and the same can be said for epic.EIGHTEEN in June. Our base prize pools do not move because financially it is safe for us to run at that level, we may re-evaluate that in future events when we are consistently hitting 20 + teams for epic.LAN CS:GO Tournaments, but sometimes it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to prize pools, so we always look for additional sponsorship to help bolster the prize pool somehow.

Profits

The two UK LANs have different reasons why they are LAN events, both started out from being community events and evolve from there. However, Multiplay are a business and they have their own shareholders to keep happy, and thus they need to make profit to be deemed a success. Now barring i35’s disaster when the 2008 Credit Crunch hit, Multiplay have weathered the storms and managed to come out the other side being a really profitable company, so much so they got bought out by GAME a couple of years ago, and have since then continued to march on forward. Whether you agree or not with their philosophy and how they run their LAN events, they are a success and without making profit from the LAN somewhere they wouldn’t be still here.

For epic.LAN it’s different, the LAN is still growing, and any profits that are made from LAN is then reinvested into making future LAN events better. Every so often money is spent developing the internet at the venue, and money is spent elsewhere for reinvesting into kit. Some of the kit is rather old from the old CentraLAN UK days, and thus any profits that we do make, is then reinvested into getting equipment. It isn’t as simple as saying “well epic.LAN make a nice profit this LAN, so perhaps prize pools increase”, because if that was the case, the rest of the LAN would quickly deteriorate and thus we would lose that potential to keep growing like we are because people would just simply stop coming to our events.

Profit is unfortunately a necessary evil in this world in either making the events better or making sure you can weather the economic turmoil (which will of course be seen over the next two years through Brexit).

Conclusion

I won’t say that your video was awful, but unfortunately I will say that your video is rather poorly conceived and lacks the context you need to understand how LAN events in the UK run. If I could share with you some financial documents to back up my claims, I would but in the interests of epic.LAN not being my company, then I simply cannot, because it would be wrong. Let’s just say, running a well oiled UK LAN is much more difficult than you can imagine.

You are correct to have concerns about the UK LAN events, although there is some misplaced concerns currently. Specifically around hotel/travel expenses, and not even offering a camping option. However unlike Twitter I will offer my congratulations on touching on some valid points, be it as wild as they are.

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Gumpster

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