It has only been a few short months since the StarCraft 2 World Championship Series graced the GTA with one of the greatest e-sports events Canada has ever seen - and we think that it shouldn't end there.
From the creative minds that organized gaming competitions for Anime North and Fan Expo, comes a Canadian tournament of epic proportions:
A Tournament that will invite 12 of the StarCraft 2 communities' most beloved foreigners along with 4 globally qualified players to compete in a battle for the ages. The fan influenced preliminary matches will be held online showdown style. Preliminaries will be broadcast online - available live in glorious HD on Twitch. The top players will come together to compete in the heart of Downtown Toronto on stage at the majestic Royal Cinema, the matches will play out in front of a live audience.
We have contacted some of the best players from the North American and European regions, and they are enthusiastic to play in front of a Toronto audience, but that can only happen with your support!
In designing The ELITE Series, we had one main goal - to create the greatest match ups between players and produce the best matches ever seen. To accomplish this, players will be matched based on global event history, play style, and most importantly, fan desire. Fans will be able to vote on match ups to help shape the playing field of the tournament. Because of the way traditional tournament seeding works, many players never get the chance to face off against each other. With The ELITE Series, they’ll now have a chance to go head to head with glory on the line in these epic match-ups; one match, one shot.
Going from concrete a slab to carpeted and softly lit elegance, from folding chairs to lavish cinema style seating, from crowding around monitors to a massive screen and ample leg room. We chose a venue that not only has world class audio and video, but is also the epitome of culture and sophistication. Our tournament is about providing the best possible matches in the most comfortable and enjoyable setting imaginable. For this, we choose The Royal Cinema.
Originally built in 1939, The Royal Cinema is an historic Art Moderne movie house located in the heart of Little Italy. The 400 seat theatre was known as the Pylon when it first opened in 1939, and over time, has become one of Toronto’s most cherished landmarks.
Sixteen(16) players will compete online in showdown matches [sudden death, best of five (5)]. Each will be influenced by the votes of fans on our social media and by Team Liquid polls. The eight(8) winners will receive placement in the on stage finals at the prestigious Royal Theatre.
The eight(8) players that advance from the preliminaries will face off in a single elimination best of five(5) bracket leading into the grand finals - which will consist of a best of seven(7) match.
$10,000 for the prize pool - this is the biggest section of funding because we want the tournament to be a part of the 2014 WCS season, and 10K prizing is a basic requirement for that.
$3,000 Venue costs – The Royal Cinema is a beautiful place, and we've scored a great deal from the owners. Front of house staff, projection booth operator, and basic technical services are all included in this. The Royal is ready and able to accommodate all the very specific things we need to stream live, and we know this is the place to showcase the best of StarCraft II!
$2,000 Player Accommodations & Travel – We want the best players we can get, but (sadly) not all of them live in Canada. To get them here we need to cover some transit costs, and we’ll need to have somewhere for them to lay down their heads to rest.
To thank you for helping make this happen we have dreamed up some exclusive perks. Even a contribution of as little as five dollars will earn you access to the HD Stream on twitch, as well as a special Founder emoticon to use during the stream.
$1 – Supporter
You’ll get a special thanks on our website and in the closing credits of the live streams.
You’ll be the first one to know when ticket sales open up for non-Kickstarter buyers – if there are any left!
$5 – @Home Viewer
All of the previous tier rewards.
Access to the HD version of our live stream of the finals broadcast out of the Royal Cinema in March, 2014.
Plus you’ll get a special Kickstarter only Founder Icon for use in stream chat.
$15 – Lemme In!
All of the previous tier rewards.
One general admission to the Live Finals at the Royal Cinema in March, 2014.
KICKSTARTER EXCLUSIVE: A specially designed Founder Button to show your e-sports pride!
$25 – Up Front, Please!
All of the previous tier rewards.
You’ll get to sit in the Reserved Seating area of the theatre. Seated behind only Premium ticket holders, these seats are front and centre, the best view in the house!
$50 – Only the Best for You ($75 Value after Kickstarter)
All of the previous tier rewards.
One Premium Experience Ticket. (Includes the following in italics)
You’ll get to sit in the very front of the theatre, in the first few rows of Reserved Seating. Absolute best seats in the house.
Downloadable replays for all matches - preliminaries and finals.
Exclusive signing access to the players.
Quick Access Badge identifying you as a premium ticket holder.
Pre-Tournament Event – Check in early to avoid the line, and attend an exclusive Master Class with some of the players.
KICKSTARTER EXCLUSIVE: Your name will be engraved on the base of the trophy that is presented to the champion!
$150 - VIP Package
Select the specific seat you want in the Premium Section of the theatre. Want front and centre? You betcha! Like an aisle seat? Sure! Front row? Done. Order of choice will be based on your backer number.
A copy of the replays on a customized flash drive mailed out to you after the tournament concludes.
A special Founder t-shirt in the size of your choice. (See picture below).
11” x 17” Thank-You Poster signed by all of the players in the finals on front, and all of the staff on back.
$500 – I Want to Feel Like a Champion too!
All of the previous tier rewards.
You’ll receive an exact replica of the trophy that will be presented to the champion of The ELITE Series.
$1,500 – If Only I Could Organize a Tournament…
All of the previous tier rewards.
You’ll be able to have input on the players that we invite to the tournament. Always wanted to meet a player? This is your chance! We’ll do our very best to get the player(s) that you want to see!
You’ll also get to go out for dinner with the player of your choice (who is playing in the tournament, of course).
$3,000 – I Always Watch the Director’s Cut.
All of the previous tier rewards.
This is the Total Behind-The-Scenes VIP package. You’ll get complete behind-the-scenes access to the entire tournament. Meet the players, hang out with the crew. See how all the magic happens.
You’ll also have a standing invite to all of our preliminary broadcasts. Come and see the casters live and get to know the team.
$8,000 – I want My Name on That!
The ELITE Series will become “The ELITE Series Presented By …”
Your name will be on all of our promotional materials, and we’ll love you forever!
These rewards are available to add on to any tier. Not coming to the event? Add it to the stream tier. Definitely attending? Pre-order yours to make sure we don't run out and to score a deal on pricing!
Kickstarter Founder Edition T-Shirt - $15
Save $5! Not only will you get a special edition Kickstarter Founder T-Shirt only available here, but it's $5 less than the selling price will be at the event! Size of your choice. If you're coming to the finals, pick it up there, otherwise add shipping. $5 within Canada, $10 to the US.
Custom The ELITE Series Poster - $10
Get a custom made The ELITE Series poster. 11" x 17". Same as the one included in the Premium Tier, but not pre-signed by all the players. If you're coming to the finals, pick it up there, otherwise add shipping. $5 within Canada, $10 to the US.
Our funding goal is set to the minimum amount we know will make an awesome event, but if we surpass that, we have some amazing plans to make The ELITE Series even more spectacular!
If our total funding is:
$20,000 - Lighting, Sound, Graphics! We'll be seriously upping our game when it comes to production, including bringing in some outside professional services - after all, we're good at what we do, but we're not technical engineers.
$25,000 - We will be able to create individual player intros and music.
$35,000 - Not only will be upping our production budget, we will also be hosting one heck of an after party – exclusive to Kickstarter backers of course.
$50,000 - extending the invitation to European players as well as adding additional hosting personalities. Trans-Atlantic flights are expensive!
My name is Drekken Pownz, and I'm the creator of this Kickstarter campaign.
I haven’t run a Dreamhack, an MLG, or an NASL tournament, but the experience I have acquired running events in the gaming community has more than prepared me for taking on this endeavour.
Most of those involved in the gaming community in Central-Eastern Canada are familiar with me. I've been around the community for years, running tournaments and making things happen to grow my passion: e-sports.
When I was young the first console I ever owned was a Sega Genesis. This led me to fall in love with two things: Sonic the Hedgehog, and fighting games. While my love for Sonic has stayed, if banked, my passion for fighting games only grew. So it made sense that when I started organizing tournaments, I would organize them for the fighting game community.
I started out by organizing Street Fighter and Smash Bros. tournaments at my LAN centre in Hamilton. I owned and operated it for 3 years which is where I gained my problem solving and organization skills. I originally started organizing tournaments out of my centre to meet a demand that wasn't being fulfilled for my customers: In-person tournaments. People love to game, and love to game in person. At the time there weren't very many similar offerings in the area. People came from as far West as London and as far East as Toronto for many of the events I held.
Throughout the years I have organized many other competitions, both large and small. My most notable event was the LG 3D Gaming Championship held at Fan Expo 2012. The Championship was a 4 day event that I organized and hosted that oversaw 500 participants play Call of Duty during the FAN Expo convention.
From there I spread to another of the passions of my youth: RTS games, specifically StarCraft. In 2013 I ran the Elite Series S1, culminating by holding our Finals at Anime North. This brought our fantastic production capabilities to an audience of over 700 throughout the course of the weekend. I have been organizing the tournament section in gaming at Anime North for 4 years now, and as of last year am in charge of all programming for Video Gaming at AN.
While this is just a quick overview of my history in gaming, I hope that you can see that your trust in this Kickstarter campaign is well founded. We have a fantastic team will all of the skills needed to put together an amazing production, and I have the experience to put it all together.
FourCourtJester - Shaun Delaney
GZSwanson - Gabriel Zoran Swanson
MasterDalK - Salil Gupta
Drekken Pownz - Organizer and Promoter
Taylor Giampaolo [Warchamp7] - Stream Director
Andrew Lam - Stage Director
Nina Boscos - Vendor Relations
Karl Chvojka - Graphics and Design
Risks and challenges
We have a very talented group of experienced people on board, including veteran advisors. With a collective 10 years of tournament and event planning experience, we have what it takes to help steer the ELITE Series in the right direction. But as with any endeavour, there are some challenges involved.
1) Global schedule: The starcraft tournament world is filled with great tournaments happening all the time and sometimes they overlap. To tackle this, we are working with Blizzard to ensure our event doesn’t clash with any other WCS sanctioned event.
2) Player schedule: Players are constantly in high demand and so are often unable to commit to events due to their hectic travel schedule. To account for this we have planned our event at the beginning of the 2014 tournament season before the full swing of things sets in.
3) Internet downtime: Producing a high quality stream and production is a top priority for us, but sometimes Internet Providers service can go down temporarily. To prevent this from affecting us, we have arranged for a secondary drop to be installed for the finals. Each line is run by one of Canada’s top ISPs - Rogers and Bell.
That is a great question, and one with a very simple answer. You’re right that this is an NA focused tournament - one of our our foci as an organization is on growing the scene here in NA and specifically in Canada. We think that the best way to do that with The ELITE Series is to make it the first Canadian SC2 WCS Global Event - that is, a tournament that awards WCS points. (This obviously doesn't include hosting finals events, as the recent WCS finals was fantastic and definitely holds the honour there!) One of the caveats to this is that a Global Event must have at least 25% of the top 16 spots open to global entrants. And so to put The ELITE Series among the other most relevant SC2 tournaments in the world, we have to include 4 open spots.
Our long-term goal as an organization is to create a studio that provides consistent and entertaining content to the e-sports community. The biggest hurdle to this is simply creating content.
What we’re trying to do with this Kickstarter is provide stimulus to the community in NA, and specifically Canada, so that we can grow our available content and personal credibility until we get to the point where we can open our own studio. We don’t want to be another crowdfunded broken promise. That’s why we’re not crowdfunding a studio. That’s why we’re starting with the ELITE Series - a tournament with unique propositions: a premiere experience at The Royal, and community involvement driving the match ups between players.
These players are actually at the top of our list of invites! We love to hear what you want and we’re going to do our best to get these talents! Part of getting them involved depends on this campaign taking off and being a success. As soon as they see we’re attracting attention and we’re going to be successful, they’ll be on board.
PS, we’re actively recruiting players and will be announcing them as the Kickstarter continues. Stay tuned to find out who’ll be playing as we announce them!
We would Love to get as much casting talent involved as possible, but we need feedback and critical mass from the community. If you wanna see someone casting, tell us and we’ll try our best to make it happen! This tournament is all about community involvement. And the more success our Kickstarter gets, the easier it’ll be to getcasters involved.
We’re planning some awesome additional content for the tournament. Monobattles, offrace games, all that fun stuff. But we want to hear what people want! The more we know, the more we can tailor that kind of content to what the audience will most enjoy.
This tournament is directed specifically at the North American e-sports scene because it focuses the invitational spots on players from NA. It’s about creating smaller and more directed events here. North America is not Korea, and the same systems that work there will not necessarily work here. We have to develop a system that works for us, one that encourages the NA players and fans to build a following as strong as that in other parts of the world. The EU already has a lot of smaller tournaments targeted directly at their own scene, giving opportunity to native players - something HuK touched upon in his vlog recently. The ELITE Series is our start at this. Creating world class, WCS feeder tournaments that showcase NA talent.
The venue has held gaming events before, and so the setup has been tested in that sense. The 2013 League of Legends Championship Series Nationals were streamed in there, and The Royal has specifically made upgrades to their setup and equipment to support gaming events such as these.
In terms of the venue cost, the reason we can get such a great deal is that many of the things that have to be rented or provided in warehouse style venues are already in place here. They don't even take extra labour to set up. Seating, lighting, sound, the screen, projection, all things that The Royal uses as a mainstay of its own business everyday. It costs them a total of two technicians to run their equipment - one in the projection booth, and one on the floor. This Greatly reduces costs. As well, The Royal isn't simply a venue for rent. They have world class editing studios, and operate as a cinema. Because acting as a venue is only part of their business, they're willing to work with us in terms of cost. Security will be an additional cost, but that should be the only extra personnel we need to pay for, as concession, base technical, and front of house staff are all included in the venue fee we’ve negotiated.
Although some of the very large tournaments pay for all of the player’s travel and accommodation expenses, it’s not a common practice for smaller tournaments. As with any grassroots tournament, our travel dollars will be specifically targeted at bringing players that we really want to showcase, but that we might not be able to get otherwise. Because we're focused on NA & Canada, the travel budget will involve those that are located here. That is the reason that the travel budget seems fairly small.
As well, if we go over the 15K target, we'll be adding money into the travel & accommodations section of the budget. The 15K is simply the lowest amount that we need to put on this tournament.
You’re right! 15K isn’t all that much when it comes to a tournament of this size. But we have a couple things going for us.
First, we’re a small grassroots organization. That means that we get most of our support from volunteers. This dramatically reduces things like staffing costs and much of our technical support.
Second, we’re local. We have the connections and the ability to take our time searching out the best deals for everything from equipment to venues. When a tournament planner puts together an event remotely, s/he has to do most of the prep work from afar, meaning that they can only make connections through phone or on the Internet. This usually means that they have to pay “standard” pricing, no discounts or great deals to be had. They also don’t know the landscape - what things should cost in the area, where to get the best deals - or have any connections in the area. These things make a world of difference when it comes to costs. In fact, many organizers hire or partner with a local organization when they plan a remote tournament so that they can overcome these type of difficulties. They can’t replace the connections though, and we have a solid history in the area with a fantastic reputation.
As well, 15K is not the total budget. We have 5K personal funds, as well as an emergency fund of 5K. 20K (15K Kickstarter + 5K personal funds) is simply the Minimum amount we feel we need to produce The ELITE Series. We would love to have 20K, 25K, 30K come in from the campaign. That would allow us to push the limits on this tournament and make it truly world class.
We are well aware that a high quality Internet connection is one of the most important factors in a tournament like this, and we have taken every precaution to make sure that short of a full scale catastrophe (think city-wide power outage), our live stream will not be interrupted. The venue already has a Bell Fibre 50/10 business grade connection in place, and we will be getting an equivalent drop from Rogers specifically for the event. This means that we will have plenty of throughput both to stream and support the players and spectators. With dual connections, we can dedicate bandwidth to the stream and still provide for our other needs.
(Warning: Tech-talk!) In the scenario that one of the providers goes down, we will be using a router with dual WAN connections and the ability to institute failover automatically, as well as QoS implemented favouring the stream and active match. This means that if the worst does happen, the stream and current matches will continue regardless. As we plan to broadcast every match of the finals in succession, the only additional load beyond the stream, current match, and commentators will be the small amount of administrative traffic and practice matches. Usage isn't an issue, as business lines/temporary drops are not rented for that, but for access speed. We won’t be providing public wifi as the venue is in the heart of the city and has excellent cellular service. Because of these factors, we don’t require the same substantial Internet links that a massive tournament might, and so can broadcast using standard business grade drops without any issue.
The internet costs are all included in the negotiated venue fee. This includes both the in place business grade connection and the secondary drop. While things like satellite links and business drops for hundreds of people can be very expensive (especially last minute), we have an experienced network guru on the team that has determined our needs. On top of that, we have the home court advantage. Internet can be expensive/complicated/difficult to procure in Canada, but we know the territory. You have to stay on top of the providers here, and we know the ins and outs of it.
Supporter - You’ll get a special thanks on our website and in the closing credits of the live streams. You’ll also be the first one to know when ticket sales open up for non-Kickstarter buyers - if there are any left!
@Home Viewer - All of the previous tier rewards. Access to the HD version of our live stream of the finals broadcast out of the Royal Cinema in March, 2014. Plus you’ll get a special Kickstarter only Founder Icon for use in stream chat.
Lemme In! - All of the previous tier rewards. One general admission to the Live Finals at the Royal Cinema in March, 2014. KICKSTARTER EXCLUSIVE: A specially designed Founder Button to show your e-sports pride!
Up Front, Please! - All of the previous tier rewards. You’ll get to sit in the Reserved Seating area of the theatre. Seated behind only Premium ticket holders, these seats are front and centre, the best view in the house!
Only the Best for You - ($75 value after Kickstarter campaign) All of the previous tier rewards. One Premium Experience Ticket. You’ll get to sit in the very front of the theatre, in the first few rows of Reserved Seating. Absolute best seats in the house. Downloadable replays for all matches - preliminaries and finals. Exclusive signing access to the players. Quick Access Badge identifying you as a premium ticket holder. Pre-Tournament Event – Check in early to avoid the line, and attend an exclusive Master Class with some of the players. KICKSTARTER EXCLUSIVE: Your name will be engraved on the base of the trophy that is presented to the champion!
VIP Package - Select the specific seat you want in the Premium Section of the theatre. Want front and centre? You betcha! Like an aisle seat? Sure! Front row? Done. Order of choice will be based on your backer number. A copy of the replays on a customized flash drive mailed out to you after the tournament concludes. A special Founder t-shirt in the size of your choice. (See picture below). 11” x 17” Thank-You Poster signed by all of the players in the finals on front, and all of the staff on back.
I Want to Feel Like a Champion too! - All of the previous tier rewards. You’ll receive an exact replica of the trophy that will be presented to the champion of The ELITE Series. Shipping only applies if you do not plan to attend the tournament in person.
If Only I Could Organize a Tournament… - All of the previous tier rewards. You’ll be able to have input on the players that we invite to the tournament. Always wanted to meet a player? This is your chance! We’ll do our very best to get the player(s) that you want to see! You’ll also get to go out for dinner with the player of your choice (who is playing in the tournament, of course).
I Always Watch the Director’s Cut. - All of the previous tier rewards. This is the Total VIP package. You’ll get complete behind-the-scenes access to the entire tournament. Meet the players, hang out with the crew. See how all the magic happens. You’ll also have a standing invite to all of our preliminary broadcasts. Come and see the casters live and get to know the team.