OGN LoL Champions Spring Finals – An eSports broadcast to remember

Image taken from OGN Video
Image taken from OGN Video

OGN LoL Champions is the best league many League fans aren’t watching. For those of us in the US, staying up to watch live broadcast isn’t practical, and we have to rely on VoDs. Yet, viewership counts on VoDs (regardless of the need to subscribe to OGN) aren’t what you’d expect for arguably the most competitive league in the LoL eSports scene.

If you’re already an OGN fan, I’m simply preaching to the choir. If you’ve abstained from this addiction up until this point however, I’d like to simply make my case to you through my breakdown of the opening ceremony of what I feel was one of the most impressive and compelling eSports broadcasts to date; the OGN LoL Champions Spring Finals between MVP Ozone and CJ Entus Blaze.

If you’d like to follow along, you can find the first part of the broadcast here (requires a subscription to OnGameNet on Twitch). The actual broadcast begins at ~25:30.

The broadcast begins with something I feel Korean media (GOMTV and OGN in particular) have long utilized more frequently and effectively than their western counterparts – a custom video segment. Be it CG, live action, or a mixture of the two, Korean broadcasts clearly put more emphasis on and resources behind their stand alone pre-produced segments. The OGN LoL Champions Spring Finals were no exception. It opens with a custom title screen complimented by voice-over and transitions into a brief CG cinematic featuring stars shooting down through the Earth’s atmosphere and arriving at Kintex Stadium in Seoul, Korea where the finals were hosted. While neither of these pieces are visually breathtaking, the important thing is that they are both unique to this broadcast and immediately let the viewer know this is not your typical night of OGN.

We then white-out fade into a jib set wide shot of what appears to be a large, dark hanger. As the camera rotates, a center stage illuminates in the distance and we then cut to a front shot of Jun Yong-joon, a famous and experienced caster in Korea. Yong-joon begins a monologue, introducing the event and setting the stage for the viewing audience present in the arena and watching over broadcast. Throughout the first minute of his monologue, we rotate through five different cameras all providing different angles of the speech. A little over a minute in, our speaker’s tone becomes impassioned. After a grand statement of enthusiasm, with our host’s body lashing out in kind, we cut to a pull-back shot of the arena as over 10,000 fans raise their lights emphatically in unison – treating the viewers on broadcast to a realization of the scale of the event. Stage lights flare up, washing the arena in blue and yellow as we cut to our sixth camera of the broadcast. This jib shot begins with its focus on the Champions Cup, but quickly flies up and pulls back to the widest shot we’ve yet been presented with, fully encapsulating the capacity of the arena. It was here watching for the first time that I let out an audible, “holy shit.”

For the next four minutes, our host continues his passionate monologue in Korean and the broadcast continues to rotate through all its cameras providing the viewer a proper and complete depiction of the size and atmosphere of the arena. This segment of the opening ceremony however is my only real griping point with the production. Four minutes seemed rather long for the second “half” of an introduction monologue. I think the broadcast would have been better served and the viewer’s excitement greater retained with a more condensed opening speech.

At the end of his speech however, we transition into what many have pointed out to being the highlight of perhaps the entire evening. Another pre-produced custom video piece begins to play on the expansive double LED screen lofted above the event’s main stage. You can find what I’m talking about here

This video alone can sufficiently represent my belief that, “Korea gets it.” We are seven minutes into the broadcast and already on our third, unique to the finals, pre-produced video segment. This hype video gets people pumped for what’s to come and is masterfully executed. Even in videos of a similar nature produced for western events, a certain tone has always been better captured and conveyed in Korea’s iterations: The God Factor. OGN, GOMTV, and the rest of Korea put their eSports superstars on a pedestal that is evident in their marketing and promotion of their product. Look through the shots of this video. There are no smiles looking back at us, only stern long stares that would make Nicolas Refn and Ryan Gosling proud. The music pumping in the background repeatedly exclaims, “It’s do or die.” Korea takes their stars and put them in the sky where they belong. This makes the fan that much more attached to the players and a video such as this that much more effective in captivating the audience. Go to the 55 second mark in the video linked above and tell me OGN doesn’t know exactly what they’re doing. A dark silhouette appears in the distance, rapidly approaching. As the shot rotates up and tight, the lights come up and we’re left with a slow rotating shot of the profile of a model quality face. As the shot’s momentum slows and pulls away, Flame’s name fades in next to his image and we hear girls screaming from the crowd.

As the video concludes we cut back to the again darkened arena and Chobra – the OGN Global Creative Director – announces, “The shining stars of Champions are here today.” One by one, spotlights turn on, illuminating the five points of a star their intersecting beams create. From here, we rotate through staged introductions of all ten players in their respective role match ups. At the conclusion of their introductions, Chobra comes over the speakers again saying, “Who will rise, and who will fall? Let the battle begin.” Fireworks go off from the main stage and we transition into our fourth pre-produced video segment that is unique to the finals. This video is a series of short interviews with the players from both teams, orchestrated to give the viewer a back-story on the match up and history between the two teams. The stage is set, and we are ready to begin!

From here, we cut back to some final shots of the arena, enveloped in white stage lights and the glow from thousands of dancing phone lights before transitioning to our casters and the beginning of the matches. I won’t belabor the reader further with my thoughts regarding the rest of the broadcast, suffice it to say I quite enjoyed it, especially the other two segments OGN produced around Homme and Blaze (although I do prefer a DreamHack style ending as opposed to the very traditional Korean awards/closing ceremony OGN employed with the Champions Spring Finals).

Throughout the Finals, there were several moments actually where I’m not ashamed to admit I got a bit emotional. This was the closest I’ve seen a production bring eSports to its potential. It made me so happy to see this and realize not only how far eSports has come, but how great it can truly be. If you’re as passionate about eSports and League of Legends as I am and you aren’t watching OGN – you should be.

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by Kelby May, on June 27, 2013