Presented by: SAP Sports

Join the three world-class Dota observers skrff, PimpmuckL and Weppas on their ride bringing you closer to their passion – and learn about their underrepresented, but invaluable effort to make esports as enjoyable and exciting as it is today.

A New Perspective | SAP Esports

Hi, I'm JJ and I'm a in game director and observer at Dota events. Explaining observing that's not easy right you you think well, just catch every kill right isn't that?
But the map in Dota is very big and you can only show a very small part so observing kind of has to be what exactly do I show at every given time. (- Jonathan "PimpmuckL" Liebig).

I think observing Dota is like the most complex one, I mean Dota it also is alot about like farming, last hits, runes there are like so many positions so I think it's in general like super complex to not miss anything and also to show the viewer kind of like a storyline of the like a carry for example farming so much and then being like this, I don't know ubeatable hero in the end, so its storyline kind of. (- Carolin "Aonir" Hanisch).

Professional observer

My name is Johan Westberg I work as a professional observer, within Dota 2, and I've been doing it for six years now (- Johan "Weppas" Westberg).

My name is Ricardo also know as Skrff I observe some Dota 2. Dota 2 I think is really good for having observers because there's so much going on there's three lanes there's ten heroes there’s stuff always going on somewhere that's being talked about by the caster's that needs to be shown small little item purchases anything you can think of there's so much going on.
I think observing in Dota is really needed to help tell the story. We usually do main observing. I'm doing like secondary observing so like the player cams, split, push cams. (- Ricard "Skrff" Holm Melin).

Major differences between main observer and secondary observer would be that the main observers you always have the camera on you unless obviously something goes wrong with game that we have the secondary observers back up but since you have the main observer looking at everything that's going on u as a secondary observer have to look at everything else and be ready to show smaller things, so for example, if I'm looking at the bottom line, he has to look somewhere else and like kind of go against his own way of observing just to make sure that we can catch everything.

When he goes in game we take over and everything we show is on us.

So for me personally observing means how I can consume the game when I'm in the stadium or when I'm at home watching the live stream. That's really the beauty of the game for me, that's the channel how I can see what's happening and how the excitement through. (- Milan Černý).

Observing itself as a very difficult task in a very fulfilling task because making sure that the viewer not only sees every kill on camera but also really important points in the game that kind of help explain the storyline of the game maybe a comeback because of creeps stack small things can be very important and this is what a observer should show and provide value to the viewer as well.
I mean people right above me fans sitting right above me and I could feel the fans going ham because of a play down in production, was an unbelievable feeling and it was so cool. And this is when I decided okay, this is this is something I really wanna do.

So this right here is the PGM feed or the main feeder that goes out to the stage to the stream to everyone watching. I use it mostly to just see what what I'm currently producing or if it looks good if everything is fine the next is going to be the main observer which is the most important part of the whole pipeline basically, the camera the in-game camera, the one in-game camera that's really used at every single stage.
Every single game as a backup but this is the bread and butter. And the next part is the ATM multi-view this is a so-called video switcher what it does is it takes different inputs. I can switch between different inputs one of these inputs right here is the so-called draft when people pick and ban the heroes which we take from a different PC so I have to swap between showing the in-game footage and the draft at appropriate times and we also have some fancy things like a picture-in-picture, creep cams.
All of these different production goodies that everyone expects from a premier tournament, lastly the ATM control is this one technically it doesn't do anything. It's just used for monitoring. So one very important part is also the tablet that we used to control the last stack I have a bunch of different categories here I can bring up anything I want onto the main observer right here basically at the tip of my finger and then there's things for example where we need extra data this data is of course provided by SAP.
Then there's obviously a laptop just to make sure that everything works I can monitor the server with it reach at, basically do whatever I want and now see this is EVS, EVS is a replay system so I can see what the replay machine is gonna put out but I call for a replay I need to know that it's exactly the sort of time frame I would like to see.

So when you look at computer games as a player you play the game, you know the game but when you look at it as an audience, it's completely different setting right. So observing is what makes a computer games that you know as a player the able to be presented to an audience in a stadium. (- Melvin Metzger).

So to talk about observing in Dota I think is to talk about the addition to the casting team. Before we had professional observers in the scene we had a play-by-play caster that was responsible for narrating the action of the game was responsible for controlling the cameras was responsible for creating a discussion with an analyst and the addition of the observer obviously, it frees up the play-by-play caster to talk about more in depth about what's going on in the game. But more importantly it actually adds a third voice to the broadcast that if the analyst is making a point about item decisions or about something some strategic objective that's going on in the game the play-by-play caster is mentally sort of setting up for the next fight.
The observer can actually highlight what's being said on the screen adding that immediate connection for the spectator. (- Alan "Nahaz" Bester).

Benefits to commentators

So commentators benefit from a good observer because you need someone who can help guide the story with you. You kind of need someone who's working with you to tell a story about the individual match individual player or any actions that are happening if you don't have a good observer, then you can't do your job correctly they kind of go really well hand in hand. (- Jason Kaplan).

I would say the viewer experience doesn't necessarily know that their experience is being enhanced by observing, for me and I know that it might be sometimes different for different people, but overall I think an observer is you will never notice them but they just go that is just our streamlined in the production.
In the cast and it just everything flows when a commentator talks about player A doing something amazing the camera was already showing that when it commentator says no I'm curious about what's looking what's going on over there the cameras already shown that and what an observer brings or what observing brings is basically a smooth experience in following the story that the commentators are trying to say (- Jorien "Sheever" Van Der Heijden).

When it comes to what viewers benefit from the observing most of the time a good observer will go unnoticed it's a bit of a thankless job in that respect but when you have great observing when you catch that moment. That is one in a million that's when the viewers will notice it but it's one of those things that behind the scenes they don't get noticed unless they're doing a bad job or a great job. So generally good observing is just what you expect to see on the show and be able to show the game in the best light (-James "Stress" O'Leary).

It's funny because for some reason certain events, like don't hire observers or don't think they're important so they'll just get volunteers, but there is definitely a big difference in quality of broadcast if you have someone that's trained to do this. It has also worked with people like me casting before it takes practice and it's actually a job and because the whole screen is this person's perspective it seems silly not to put someone that does it professionally in charge (- Kyle "Kyle" Freedmand).

  • - So my personal observing style it used to be very erratic and like narcissistic in a way.
  • - He's a bit of an asshole, but he came around, you know like few years ago he realized like hey, it's also important to like, yeah you know what's the word.
  • - I got rid of that it wasn't fun for anyone involved.
  • - He had a tendency at times even in observing where like it was he was leading and he wanted you to follow along with his cam work.
  • - And nowadays it's more it's more in the same way that weppas and Skrff will do that where all three of us kind of understand our game we're not there to like be personal. We want to make sure that you show everything that's important.
  • - Because you got to be smooth because in this field, it's always collaborating you're always at the whims of hundreds of other people.
  • - You wanna let things set that are important and if you miss something yeah you can take a jab at them, but it's not like you just wanna throw them under the bus.
  • - He's gotten a lot better at ensuring that it's a team process while still maintaining that confidence that hey if this is some really good shit he's going to make sure you know about it.
  • - I'm really excited for when observers from multiple games are really confident and consistent in their own ability that they start saying how can we take it to the next level as well? And for me always being able to get that different angle on the game and the better viewer experience is what I'm excited about.

Game layers

If you have no instant replays if you have no ability to look back and see what happens you miss out on a lot of the action that's happening within that much if you look at it in the way it happens in eSports it's actually been pushed to another kind of level at the moment everyone's trying to outdo everyone by adding in like augments to reality adding in statistics and stuff like that it helps give a better complete view of what's been happening in that match and likewise it helps us commentators get more of an idea of how this match is going and kind of who's performing well and who's performing not as good.

In general the main thing that users care about the game is like you know who's playing, is the game good is it exciting is the patch really good. You know and when that is good, we have another step like are the casters telling a good story is that good?
Okay next step how is the observing how is the you know stats coming out and that's where we come in, it's like that like I would say second or third layer that is needed for like a really good broadcast.

Data and in-game is really interesting we have a very fortunate game here that exposes a lot of data so we can get all the data but the data is abstract in a way it's just numbers getting into the in-game production and having graphics to visualize part of the data can really help viewers understand context can understand how exactly something happened on the screen that the cast has been talking about it provide so many more storylines to the game and really provide a different story about the game than what it used to be.

The first time we met JJ was at an eSports event in the UK and we realized pretty quickly that our mindsets are very similar with regards to approaching the eSports audience and what Layarth is doing provides tremendous value to the viewership and to the audience now we sat together with them and we really thought about okay how can we extend the amazing existing stuff that they're already doing and giving it more context based on existing technology, the result I think is new features, which are being used across the stream at many tournaments by now and really bring the viewership experience to the next level.

Explaining one layer of this is actually not that easy. It's basically a system that takes data from the game and tries to visualize it in the broader sense. So if you're someone playing carry and you say hey Cole he's farming a lot of jungle camps and we can visualize that a caster would only say, yeah, he found a lot of jungle the observers sometimes showed a lot of you know, this guy being in the jungle, but now you have a very specific way to show it and visualize it and the viewer to understand exactly what happened in this game we talked to SAP and they provide the option to have historical context for the live-sets we have so us working on the live part of the broadcast and SAP coming in as a technology partner for the historical part of the broadcast and infusing all this data together was a very natural and reasonable partnership to do.

So working with Layarth and JJ and those guys we started like thinking about what is actually possible for us and what actually helps them so they came to us with a couple of ideas we had a couple of ideas ourselves that might be helpful to them. And then we worked out a system where they can use their existing analytics like their existing in game stuff and solution and use our extended like historical data to make it even more interesting and to have even more cool insides.

When comparing eSports to traditional sports like Football like Basketball like Tennis eSports has still kind of a way to go everything is digital by nature so it becomes really easy to collect data and make something out of it it's just there's still a lot of potential to unfold moving forward in the future when you look at traditional Sports, they cover everything in eSports we are still at the beginning of you know, unfolding those features and getting context to data which is super complex. These games are very very complex and not easy to understand to a wide audience and technology in stats and insights can really help doing that.

The main reason we love working with ASP is because our path before them was on live stats nobody was doing live stats before and we were like, okay let's just focus on doing collecting live data about the game let's show that so like current damage that the hero has done so far where has he moved so far this game for like what is his net worth through the game, but we always lack that little bit of piece of context that allows users to be like, okay I see that he did ten thousand damage but how does that compare to like previous games how does it compared to whole patch? So with SAP was like a perfect partnership where they could handle the historical data and we just get the data from them and we combine it with what we've collected and it just creates the perfect teacher I would say.

I quite enjoy working as an observer because it's like I've done it for so long now and it's like having a second family in a sense you get to see all the players all the production teams around the world going around all the talent as well and it's just it's like seeing your friends over and over again.

I think my motivation is just I love Dota. I mean I am really passionate about Dota. It's the same thing that kind of motivates me when I come home from an event. I just I watch a lot of Dota like I'm away for two weeks I watch Dota day and day out and the first thing I wanna do when I get home it's just play Dota.

What motivates me about observing and keep doing what I'm doing is most of the people that I work with all the talent all the podcast talent they're like my second family they're good friends we regularly hang out at events, you know have a good time so seeing them at every event is just fantastic cause you kind of reconnect and doing observing is also obviously fun and it's great because you feel like the work that you put in in prep and getting better at it also works and it helps.

Although I do actually get some thanks from my job from time to time, mostly if I don't miss a lot of first bloods, sometimes it's Twitter DM sometimes is just people coming up to me at events, which is really fun and really cool cause having people appreciate it above your job is the best thing ever, basically.

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