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Motherboard

Watching eSports Is About to Get Way More Intimate

An easier way to watch an eSports pro's POV.

by Emanuel Maiberg
Jul 30 2015, 10:00am

Photo: ESL/Helena Kristiansson

ESports are huge, but still a little hard to follow from home, even if you know a thing or two about the games. Today, gameplay video sharing platform Plays.tv and one of the world's largest eSports organizations ESL announced a partnership that aims to improve the viewer's experience by giving them greater access to their favorite player's perspective.

With this new partnership, every computer a professional player uses at one of ESL's Intel Extreme Masters series event will run a slightly modefied version of the Plays.tv client, which captures, compresses, and uploads gameplay videos to its platform. This way, ESL will be able to immediately upload exclusive videos from the perspective of every player as soon as the match is over.

Popular eSports games like League of Legends and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive already have built-in tools that allow fans to watch matches, but Plays.tv's videos will capture the match exactly as the pro player saw it, including mouse clicks and voice communication.

Another important advantage is that gameplay captured with Plays.tv is uploaded as a video you can watch from any computer, smart phone, or tablet. If you want to watch a match captured with a game's built-in tools, you need to have that game installed.

A user who's following a favorite Counter-Strike player will be able to see a video of the latest big match, exactly as it was played

"That likely means you can't watch it from work, school, anywhere [that isn't your gaming computer]," Dennis Fong, CEO of Plays.tv parent company Raptr, told Motherboard. "The accessibility is part of the allure of the tech that we're providing."

Fong said that the partnership will also save ESL organizers the logistical nightmare of capturing and uploading each player's point of view.

"We've automated it in a way that requires almost no work from ESL," Fong said. "Plays.tv automatically records, it knows when the game starts and ends, it tags the game, team, and players in it, it knows what map is being played, and then with one click it uploads all the videos to one place."

As Motherboard previously reported, eSports might be incredibly popular, but organizations like the ESL are still evolving the best way the convey the games to viewers at home. First-person shooters like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive are especially hard to follow because they involve two teams of five players, each with a unique perspective that is crucial to the way a match unfolds.

Avid eSports fans are also particularly interested POV videos so they can better see how pro players are doing what they're doing. The Plays.tv and ESL partnership could potentially make that easier.

The Plays.tv platform is modeled after social networks like Twitter or Instagram, where users can follow other users or events. A user who's following his favorite Counter-Strike player, for example, will be able to see a video of his latest big match, exactly as he played it, as soon as it's uploaded. The only delay is in waiting for videos to upload, which can take a number of hours depending on the file size.

For now, the partnership is limited to Intel Extreme Masters series, which is just one of many ESL events. If the partnership spreads to other ESL events, we'll know that Plays.tv might be on to something.