Insomnia 57 : A Manager's View

Insomnia 57: A manager’s view

Please note that this is a personal blog of the event and assume that all things written are my own views and opinions.

I would like to firstly introduce myself and the organisation for those unaware. I founded MnM (Molotovs and Marshmallows) Gaming in 2013 with my brother and we launched as an organisation on Jan 1st 2014. I had no experience of eSports or management prior to MnM and I was just a naive 18 year old student when I decided to start an organisation.

MnM has existed for quite some time, however our first year was very slow for us. We were very much learning the ropes in terms of photoshop, Social Media, getting to know the scene and so on. The fact that I was on a year abroad in China also did not help either but I would say we have continued to exceed our expectations as an organisation and maybe even other people’s expectations too.

This article will be separated into three main parts: The Event, League of Legends and Counter-Strike: GO.

The event : coverage & prize pools

Multiplay have reduced their previous Counter Strike prize pool since the winter LAN of i56. The £5,000 prize pool has been something that is disappointing, having seen i54 and i56 with a prizepool of both £10,000 and £7,500 despite strong numbers and nearly 90 CS teams entering the summer LAN alone.

I have always questioned the justification of Multiplay’s decision to have such small prize pools when there are an increasing number of teams popping up in UK Counter-Strike to compete. What is even more of a shock is that Multiplay put up the Hearthstone prize pool to $30,000. While we do have to take into consideration that Insomnia Gaming Festival is now one of the many events to gain Championship Tour points, it is proof that Multiplay have access to and are willing to increasing prize pools.

Granted that in December the tournament prize pool was pushed up by Roccat, however the lack in tournament brackets and viewer guides by Multiplay themselves have made watching and following the event near enough impossible. This could be the possible reason for dwindling viewership numbers and in turn causes a downward spiral for sponsorship interest and viewership interest. As far as I am concerned, Multiplay have monopolised the UK eSports scene and we need their full co-operation with the UK eSports community in order to translate our increasing sign-ups to a strong foundation for a growing eSports industry. The flop of the untested i56 eSports bracket and the inability to input the proper results in i57 is evidence alone that community co-operation is not fully happening.

On the upside, we saw UKCSGO come to life in Spring 2015 hoping to bridge the gap between the infamous closed UK eSports scene and the growing UK Counter-Strike community. This has contributed positively towards the growth of the Counter-Strike scene and even though there is some criticism, the website still offers the best UK eSports coverage out there right now. The countless amount of posts and tweets regarding the lack of scores, streamed games and lack in publicity of both i56 and i57 shows that people who do not go to LAN still want to engage and get involved with the scene. UKCSGO recently implemented a results and bracket system into their website but that still wasn’t enough as the Battlefy system did not allow for match scores to be added which made covering the event very difficult.

Taken from Multiplay’s Flickr
THE EVENT : the venue & halls

The NEC itself is a big improvement over the previous venue in Coventry. The exhibition, BYOC area and eSports stage are all connected as opposed to being on different levels like in Coventry. Security was good as always and I saw no issues with people’s bags being checked or having 24/7 security staff inside the hall itself and at all entrances.

While I do praise the venue for giving people easier and simpler access to all areas that Insomnia 57 has to offer, there is a noise issue with everything being within walking distance. On the Friday of group stages, the eSports stage was being used for a role playing event. However it was incredibly loud and we found it very difficult to hear each other at all. People screaming and shouting at 10:30p.m. is not what I want to hear, especially when we are still playing our group stages games which only ended at 2a.m. This really needs to be addressed as there are always tournaments still running at that time.

There are 4 stages in total; eSports, Hearthstone, Main and Exhibition. The eSports stage being one of the smallest stages and the Main stage being one of the biggest with YouTubers making their appearances there. I would prefer a bigger eSports stage and to maybe even move the Friday Night role playing event to the main stages so it can be further away from the BYOC area. The exhibition hall was empty compared to previous events and it is probably due to Gamers Assembly and Copenhagen Games being on at the same time, which has always been an issue for me to have different big events on at the same time.

In terms of the venue staff, the admins were great. I always enjoy talking to Jon Vicious Kelly, the admin for the Counter-Strike GO tournament. He puts in a tremendous amount of effort into each event he admins and I know MnM players and I appreciate the work he puts in, given the countless times Multiplay have given him an awful system to work with. The League of Legends admins are always nice to meet too, I am not as involved in the LoL scene like I am with the CS scene so it is always nice to meet a new person who is from the community.

Counter-strike:Go team : pre-event

Coming up to the event we had quite a lot of unfortunate issues with one example being when Luke fearLess Morris was sick with pneumonia which at no fault of his, stunted practice. We were not able to attend epic.LAN 17 due to the event being fully booked in December and so the only official matches we turned up to were the ESL UK Premiership Qualifiers. In Week 1 we unfortunately lost to Kioshima’s team in the Quarter-Finals but managed to secure some points with the expectation of performing better in Week 2. This did not happen as we lost to Girls Generation 16 – 12 in R16. This was a shock to me and the team as our first LAN as a team was merely 3 days away and it felt like our chances of qualifying for the ESL UK Premeirship was slim.

I get very emotional about things and I always believe that it is my fault as a manager if such things happen. If a team leaves me then it is my fault for not building a better relationship or improving the organisation fast enough. The loss and lack of practice due to illness as well as issues in the League of Legends team meant I slept very little before the event.

COUNTER-STRIKE:GO TEAM : The event

In terms of being a manager, I have a few rules and goals that I set myself when I am at LAN.
– Players come first.
– No alcohol.
– Make their achievements known on social media.
– Create and photograph enough content for when things can be quiet between competitions.

I arrived on Thursday as an Early Access along with 4 of the League of Legends players and 2 of the Counter-Strike players, fearLess and BeRTY. After a meet and greet we got set up and I prepared the score templates and the coverage hub for the coming day.

I already spoke of my lack of sleep pre-event and I will always put my players first. We are still a growing organisation and we got 4 blow up beds and a “8 man tent” (More like 5) for the League of Legends team to sleep in. There were 6 of us and last event I took the liberty of not sleeping so that the player’s could sleep. I would then hop into the tent at 9-10 a.m. to take a quick power nap before the day started. This worked for i56, however as I had no slept at all prior to the event it didn’t work and I had to help the remaining CS players to unload their set-up to be ready for Groups.

Groups was straight forward for us, I got some nice shots with my Nikon D3200. I have had issues with my camera recently as I did buy it quite a few years ago on my year abroad. The lens isn’t good enough for the low lighting in the BYOC hall and some of my photos came out bad. I recorded video footage for winning and losing moments but again the microphone and video quality was not up to the standard that I wanted.

The long day and big groups meant that it was even more tiring for me, I occasionally black out without realising and I’d wake up 10-30 minutes later. In terms of the team’s performance we performed and had no issues apart from the loud stage at 10:30 p.m.

Game 1 | Molotovs and Marshmallows 164 Mike Hunt (de_mirage)
Game 2 | Impulse Gaming 1 – 16 Molotovs and Marshmallows (de_inferno)
Game 3 | TeqR esports  5 – 16 Molotovs and Marshmallows (de_cache)
Game 4 | Konvict Gaming 5 – 16 Molotovs and Marshmallows (de_mirage)
Game 5 | TPO.eSports 11 – 16 Molotovs and Marshmallows (de_cache)
Game 6 | Molotovs and Marshmallows 164 BBC (de_overpass)

EB (Left) and fearLess (Right) discussing their next game in groups
EB (Left) and fearLess (Right) discussing their next game in groups

At this point it was closing towards 2a.m. and our remaining League of Legends player had already arrived so the spot our manager, FL3XYY, took on Thursday night was now taken by the last player, tohaj. I do recall a lot of people asking me if I was okay so I must have looked quite tired so I quickly jumped onto the monorail and had got myself a cheap hotel room with FL3XYY. If we had realised that the prices of camping tickets had soared, we would have got hotels to begin with but that’s for Insomnia 58.

Day 2 was the big day to show what we had with our first game against Monumentalis. Why was this such a big game for us? The line up that we picked up back in February was the line up that had left Monumentalis in January/December so I think there was some pride on the line for the players.

Screenshot 2016-03-30 09.49
fearLess cheering after a win on cache before we lose the bo3 2-1

We lose to Monumentalis 2 1 and team morale was low. The one game that we did not want to lose in the event and we lose it from miscommunication and bad play. We move to the lower bracket to play Impulse Gaming, a team we beat 16 1 in the groups stage on Inferno.

The team spirit was still not there as we choose to play Inferno as our first map against Impulse Gaming. Things did not go well for us as we were very close to losing the game as we finished the game with a win in double over time with a score of 2624. This was a result of continued miscommunication and tilt from the previous loss against Monumentalis.

DSC_0543
A disheartened BeRTY after the 26-24 win

Something wasn’t working on Day 2 and we didn’t have long to change as we had Cache coming up as map 2. I will admit I was quite disheartened as well, considering a disappointing result in i56 after a 21 loss against FM eSports for top 12, I did not want a repeat.

The team spoke after the game and it was time for game 2. Something must have clicked as we moved to game 2 with a win of 164.

Next was the real challenge, Team CeX (Seed 6) to play to secure top 8 and were also the winners of i56. If we win this next bo3 then we make our seed of 7-8th. Morale was high and we were not going to drop dead to finish 12-9th. UKCSGO did a match report on the best of 3 which resulted in a 20 in favour of MnM. We continue our momentum and 20 Pick N Mix, the team that took everyone by surprise after beating FM and Onscreen’s team in groups.

Molotovs and Marshmallows 1 – 2 Monumentalis
Game 1: de_cache
16 14
Game 2: de_inferno
– 16
Game 3: de_overpass
10 – 16

Molotovs and Marshmallows 2 0 Impulse Gaming
Game 1: de_inferno
2624
Game 2: de_cache
164

CEX 0 2 Molotovs and Marshmallows
Game 1: de_dust2
10 16
Game 2: de_cache
14 16

Pick ‘N’ Mix 0 2 Molotovs and Marshmallows
Game 1: de_mirage
2 16
Game 2: de_cache
8 16

Winning moment against CeX

Day 2 ended positively and we had already secured top 6 in the tournament which exceeded our seed of 8th. That night we played till the early hours of the morning again and slept as much as we could before an early start against 4th seed NerdRage. Again UKCSGO did a great job by writing a quick news report on the match against NerdRage. Most notably being down 411 on train and bringing it back to 1612 as CTs.

nerdRAGE.pro 02 Molotovs and Marshmallows
Game 1: de_train
1216
Game 2: de_mirage
1216

After securing top 4, we’ve exceeded by seed by far and we look to play FM eSports in the Lower Bracket Final. Our game plan was to win cache as we expected FM’s train to be strong. It’s sad to say that this was the end of the road for us, but I’m still immensely happy with the team nonetheless. We lose 20 to FM eSports after a 1613 loss on cache and a 165 loss on train. There is one thing that I wished for, was for our other games to be streamed as well. Many people had to rely on our coverage hubs or specifically ask me for updates on our lower bracket games.

fearLess shaking hands with his former teammate Puls3 of FM eSports after our 2-0 loss
fearLess shaking hands with his former EZSkins teammate, Puls3 of FM eSports, after our 2-0 loss

It was great to meet the team and to see them exceed their own expectations. As a manager I could not ask for more than a smiling and happy team knowing that the hard work they’ve put in has paid off.

In the previous event, we were also knocked out by FM eSports. Immi and co enjoys knocking us out..i55, epic.15, i56 and now i57. The difference at i56 was that the team didn’t meet their own expectations going out of the event. This was s0m’s first LAN since his return from Thailand and it was quiver’s last chance to make it past top 4 in 2015. In no way am I disappointed with that roster but I do and will always blame myself because I think that there could have been something I could have done to help the team meet their expectations.

League of Legends team : pre-event

It’s no surprise in the League of Legends scene that things were not working for us prior to the event. We were 2-4 in the ESL UK Premiership and a recent ManaLight video highlighted the issues that their coach, FrozenDawn, thought about MnM. He was not wrong, we were quite underwhelming in the later stages of the Premiership and team practice was severely lacking.

To put some context to the team, we came out of i56 with a 3rd place win with Nocturnal Plex and Artorias as our Jungle and Top Laner. The holiday season was near and team practice and communication lacked. This resulted in Nocturnal Plex departing for Exertus and us looking for 2 players to fill the empty spots as we wanted a new Top. Deadlines were coming and a roster had to be submitted. Trials were rushed and we ended up with tohaj and Gashandslash filling the Jungle and Top role. It is not unfair for me to say that there were recurring issues and communication problems in the team. In short, we tried to address the seemingly fragmented team and our play and results show how ineffective we were in trying to resolve the prominent issues.

The week of i57 fell into the week 6 of the ESL UK Premiership. We went into i57 with a loss against Renegades. Everyone expected us to lose and we knew ManaLight were the favourites for the match but nonetheless a loss can always put a team down, especially given all the concurrent issues we had. I don’t want to dwell into specific moments, problems, or even point fingers but I wanted to say that things just weren’t as great as we wanted.

LEAGUE OF LEGENDS TEAM : The event

The rules I mentioned in the Counter-Strike part of this article, are enforced upon myself and encouraged for the players until the tournament is over for us. The same goes for the personal situation I had in terms of my sleep at that point. Nonetheless Gashandslash, HalfPastThor, SmokeyLemon and Prosfair had all arrived on Thursday night. The only person who was missing was tohaj who was expected to arrive at midday on Friday.

Prosfair playing on Friday afternoon
Prosfair playing on Friday afternoon

Game 1 in groups was against ManaLight. This was our time for redemption as we lost to them in ESLUK and things started great. We were a few thousand gold ahead with something similar to 123 in our kills against ManaLight’s. Unfortunately we had long delays and the internet kept going down. More than 30 minutes later the game continued and in the end we lost. Unfortunately due to the situation I was in, I don’t remember much but I did black out and wake up feeling sick and looking up at our manager FL3XYY for a positive response. He shook his head and continued to play his game as he was filling in for Lemonade eSports in the Rocket League tournament. We finish 2nd in our group and move onto playoffs in Day 2.

I’ll be honest, this event I put a lot less effort than I normally do into the League of Legends team. It just wasn’t enjoyable watching the team play any more knowing that we still had those issues and that even at LAN, there was miscommunication between everyone. I am not saying they’re awful players but what I am saying is that things still didn’t mesh well. This is something that I probably should have to improve on for the next event. I think that my attitude at that time towards the team just reinforces my point of how bad the environment and chemistry felt, even from a manager’s perspective.

Day 2 comes and we look to play uPro in the upper bracket. The end result was 20 in favour of uPro. We had to beat TCA eSports in the lower bracket to move forward or we would be out of the tournament. The game itself ended 21 in favour of TCA. The team just continued on to play games and relax after that. Some people split off into their usual groups but we still ate together and chatted as friends.

FL3XYY, SmokeyLemon, Rayganz ( He came to say Hi at the event ) & the rest of the team eating together.
FL3XYY, SmokeyLemon, Rayganz ( He came to say Hi at the event ) & the rest of the team eating together.

As I write this article, we are losing to TCA in the final week of ESLUK Premiership. We started with a sinking ship and quickly rustled on week by week to try patch it up while at the same time, the sea around us gets stronger. I would still like to say that it’s not a matter of player’s skill that I am concerned with, but moving forward we need to sort out our communication as a team and changes need to happen if that doesn’t happen. We finished 7-8th at i57 and 6th in ESL UK Premiership, which for our first time is nothing to take away from the players. I would much prefer having those same results with better communication and more practice, instead of going in week in and week out having the same disappointing issues and lack of practice.

I don’t have much more to say about i57 for us apart from we didn’t meet our own expectations. Like I mentioned at the end of CSGO : THE EVENT , the hardest thing for me to mentally deal with and physically see is when player’s don’t meet their own expectations. I blame myself for not getting enough supporting staff and the meetings we had to try resolve issues were not enough. It’s easy for me to say that this is purely the player’s fault and the team as a whole is going badly, but instead I look to make sure in the future the team has a solid foundation to rely in when things are not going well

CONCLUSION

I hope you have enjoyed the article and that it gives you some insight into my thoughts and feelings going into and out of this event. Of course there are too many things to mention and I have to quickly gloss over or not include certain events and points because there are just too many to include. People often ask me about MnM and how I started it or what I do, so I hope that the readers out there now know a bit more about UK eSports management and if you enjoyed it then do tell us on social media or tweet me @KalKalCS.