It seems that it only took a moment for esports to take the leap from a closed, exclusive community to a billion-dollar industry with thousands of events around the world. However, old-timers do remember how esports events used to look when it was held in internet cafes without the impressive prize pools and opulent stages.
Now it’s hard to imagine a Dota 2 Major tournament in a small club. On the contrary, such events become more striking and vibrant with each passing year. One of the most significant and crucial elements of an esports show is the stage, which is the responsibility of the stage designer. In fact, a stage designer doesn’t just come up with stage dressings, they create an entire world that enthralls the viewer for the duration of the tournament.
In 2021, the first-ever anime-themed tournament WePlay AniMajor took place. The Dota 2 Major stood out thanks to high viewership figures and an unforgettable atmosphere, which was a merit of the WePlay Esports team, in particular, stage designer Ihor Chupryna. In this article, Ihor will share the secrets of preparing the settings for one of the most successful Dota 2 Majors during the pandemic.
Ihor and his team worked on the entire stage for WePlay AniMajor, which, for the record, was 45 meters long and so high that it included two 11-meter statues. The first mission of a stage designer is to make the stage comfortable for the players. Otherwise, designers run the risk of putting on a grand show that will not meet the technical requirements of the discipline. As a result, such an event will clash with the whole essence of esports.
“An esports stage is not only beautiful but also functional. Each discipline imposes its own limitations. For example, if we talk about WePlay AniMajor, we talk about Dota 2. There are five people in each team, and the members of one team must be able to talk to each other so that the rivals don’t hear them,” says Ihor Chupryna, stage designer at WePlay Esports.
During matches, the teams sat opposite each other, with a river strewn with lotuses flowing between them. Designers need to be on the same wavelength with the audience, using stories, concepts, and ideas that fans understand. A stage designer is essentially an artist who places accents in space and already knows in advance what the audience will pay attention to instantly.
“Community has the term Easter egg, referring to surprises and hidden features. Naturally, there was a river flowing on our stage for a reason. On the in-game map, the river divides the space into two parts and separates the teams from each other. So we decided to bring this river from the game to life in the real world,” shares Ihor Chupryna.
The esports community remains quite exclusive. Fans have their own jokes and language, and the tournament organizer must understand this.
“Preparation for WePlay AniMajor started with discussions, just as preparations for any tournament do. In general, I was far from being an anime connoisseur, so I had a lot to catch up on. However, I am grateful that I work with talented and inspiring people, and thanks to their help, I created the stage design in almost one evening. Without the design of the stage, other teams of the AR department and designers can’t start their work. WePlay AniMajor is a project prepared on a tremendous scale in the shortest possible time. Therefore, we had to work fast and without errors,” comments Ihor Chupryna.
The decorations and props for the event were fantastic. The tournament organizer succeeded in recreating the vibe of a Japanese village. Viewers saw a ramen shop, lotuses, and lanterns casting off a warm light. It took a lot of time and effort to design the one-of-a-kind stage.
“It took 4,500 hours of effort to build the stage. For a month, one factory did nothing but construct our decorations. We have assembled several construction crews and teams making the best movie props from Eastern European countries. People worked double shifts to create a real miracle within the deadline,” sums up Ihor.
Esports tournaments have become more than just competitions — now, they entertain fans of all ages and social statuses. Therefore, a vibrant and unique stage is of the essence for any esports show.
To win the fans’ hearts, esports stage designers need to go the extra mile. Decorations and props add atmosphere to the event, making it into one all viewers will remember. And almost any idea can be brought to life if you find talented and responsible team members. That’s what will make multimeter statues, bright lotuses, a calm river, or anything else you can come up with appear at your event.