CEVO Interview

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> We recently made contact with Charlie Plitt (CEO), Eric Ping (CTO), and Mike Stevens (Lead Developer), to talk about the upcoming release of a new chapter in CEVO.

First off, thank you for making the time to answer some of our questions guys. Before we begin, can you explain what CEVO is all about to our readers?

**Charlie:** I started CEVO in Dec. of 2002 with two simple goals in mind. First, to pursue fair competition by developing an anti-cheat designed for league play. Second, to enable gamers to compete for cash and prizes without having to travel across the country to play at big LANs. E-sports had a hole that needed filling, so I jumped in. To date, hundreds of thousands of gamers have competed in CEVO and we’ve given away about $750,000 in cash and prizes. As we grew, we branched out and developed white-label solutions for other companies. While this was good for CEVO the business, to be perfectly honest it wasn’t as good for CEVO the league. As we were building new technologies and custom platforms for brands like DirecTV, Alienware, and GeForce, our focus on CEVO the league was diminished somewhat. A few months ago we decided to refocus on CEVO. I started CEVO because I was passionate about e-sports. Eric and Mike both joined CEVO as players and then as admins years ago because they were passionate about e-sports. Now we see that e-sports is growing and changing rapidly, and our passion is rekindled. Eric: CEVO is getting back to the core of what attracted me to it as a gamer years ago: actually listening to the community. Moving forward, CEVO’s vision is clear: we want to empower gamers and grow communities. That means no more status quo. No more monolithic, “we-know-best” approach towards competition. And maybe most exciting of all, no more pay-to-play. Instead, we are focused on building the kind of online competitive scene that gamers actually want. We’re re-launching with an awesome new design and a lot of cool features. But we feel like even with all the improvements, we’re really launching a starting point, and from that day forward the community will start dictating where we go and what new features we add. We encourage gamers to get involved with us, tell us what you think and how we can improve. Post in our forums! The three of us as well as the rest of our staff will be monitoring and will respond to question and suggestions. We’re also adding ways for gamers and fans to have a larger voice and play a bigger role in shaping the future of their competitive scene.

The website was recently shut down for a complete overhaul. What are some of the major changes that you have applied to the new version of the website?

**Eric:** In comparison to the old CEVO website, our new site is unrecognizable. It’s literally rebuilt from the ground up. Gamers who’ve played in events from our partners like Alienware Arena or the GeForce Starcraft 2 Pro/Am may recognize some of the underlying functionality/flow of the competition pages. But we’re also adding a lot of new stuff unique to CEVO. And CEVO will be an ongoing project. We will be constantly developing and rolling out new features just as fast as we can, and based heavily on what the community asks of us. We’re really focusing on bringing the player experience and the fan experience closer together. Match predictions will be a great way for fans to get more involved with the competition, and we’re integrating that pretty heavily into the match pages and brackets. Fans will also be able to write articles justifying their picks or previewing a match, and of course players will be welcome to respond. Another great feature is the ability for people to stay up to date on what their friends and favorite teams or players are doing. The functionality is somewhat similar to Twitter. For example, if I click to follow your team, I will receive updates in my CEVO feed whenever your team schedules a match, reports a score, has a roster change, etc. This will make it so much easier for me to know when to spectate your matches, or follow your progress if I miss one. The following features are something we’re going to continue to build on as the community tells us how they want to use it. Mike: One of our biggest goals is to unify the user experience, regardless of what you want to do. The previous version of CEVO was very centered around the player, as are most league websites. We want our new site to be a sweet symphony of users who want to play, watch, or simply discuss what is going on in their game. We want to foster the discussion around big matches, and we want those who are watching to be able to feel the presence of the other users doing the same. We have a lot of neat tools ready, and more in the works, that will alter the look and content of parts of the site to accompany whatever is happening “right now.” Seeing the match predictions change, watching a live stream embed, voting in polls and discussing the match on an embedded comment thread will start bringing a real unified experience for everyone. We want the players to be able to see their fans’ reactions and discussions once the match is over. We believe that if all of these pieces work together, we’ll really be able to bring about a new, fresh, and cohesive experience to e-sports. Eric: One of the most exciting features we’re working on is community events. After we run a few events to get some bugs worked out and get some initial feedback, we’re going to start making tools available for anybody to create their own public or invite-only tournaments. Public events will be tagged as “community-run,” and players will be given options to learn about these as they come out, or browse/find them on the site. Invite-only events will let the organizer control who joins. So if you want to run, say, a 3v3 CS:GO tournament with the other guys in your office, you’ll be able to come to the CEVO site and set it up in minutes. Or, if you’re an intrepid player of a little-known game and you want to try to establish a competitive community around it, you can come to CEVO and set up a 32 team bracket. You decide the ruleset, you decide the schedule, and spread the word over Facebook, Twitter, gaming forums etc. Watch your event fill up and then kick off play. Best part is, it’s all free. And who knows, maybe your game takes off and becomes a featured title!

With the release of the new redesigned CEVO, will you be adding new games to the competitive ladder or sticking to the original titles as before?

**Charlie:** CEVO started with just CS 1.6. Then we added Source. Then we branched out in to titles like Call of Duty, TF2, Left 4 Dead, etc. Although mostly FPS titles, we did run some Starcraft 2 events and we even dabbled in games like Heroes of Newerth and Supreme Commander 2. Moving forward, CEVO will continue to run featured events and partner events in whatever games support the biggest communities. For example, when we re-launch, our first three events will be CS:GO, Dota2, and SC2. After that we will support one or more CoD and Battlefield titles, as well as TF2 and a few other games. Eric: We will also run periodic tournaments for smaller games. Since we’re going almost exclusively free-to-play, we’re excited about pushing the competition envelope and trying different event setups. Sometimes we will run King of the Hill events. We will have throwback events for CS 1.6, Source, Modern Warfare, etc. Ultimately, though, our platform has no limitation on the number of games we support. Once the community events toolset rolls out, the sky is the limit. And we’re looking forward to improving and advancing our technology to help give games the tools they need to compete in the games they like.

Will there be any major changes to the classic maps used in the Counter Strike division?

**Charlie:** For our initial launch events, are sticking with what’s generally accepted. However, from that point on it’s all about what the community wants. We definitely support competitive maps and competitive map-making. If a map is gaining traction, we can put it to our community. If the support is there, we can add it to preseason or even the regular season. Ultimately, it’s all about whatever maximizes the experience for the gamers.

Here at Gamebanana, we are all about customization. What are the chances of CEVO using custom maps for CS:GO leagues, and other titles?

**Charlie:** Here is where our community events will really come in handy. Let’s say GameBanana wanted to run or promote a 32 team GO tournament featuring only top-rated custom maps submitted to gamebanana.com. That’s totally possible. Since it would be free to join, this could be a great way for players to have fun, try something different, and test out custom maps for possible use in our featured competitions.

In the past, leagues such as, CAL and others, excluded custom skins to be used in the Counter Strike divisions. Will you be following this rule, or will the use of custom skins be allowed?

**Charlie:** Custom skins are a bit tricky because it does create the scenario for abuse. It would be possible for us to support specific skin sets, and that’s something we have even looked at in the past. For our featured events, this would ultimately be a decision for that community to make.

Will we see a new updated CEVO client, if so what are some of the changes?

**Eric:** Absolutely. Our AC client is being revamped from the ground up. We wanted to massively improve the overall experience, so we’re integrating the startup process right into the website. The client footprint is being reduced, and you will no longer have to deal with a chat room or readying-up inside the client. It will all happen through the website. Other improvements include stability, performance, connectivity, and of course cheat-detection. I’m not prepared to divulge too much about that at this time, but more information will be forthcoming as the first match dates arrive. Mike: One of the biggest goals moving forward with our AC is that gamers actually WANT to use it. We want you to know that it works, and feel confident that it’s improving your overall experience. In the past, connection instability issues and a weak interface made our AC burdensome to use. With all of the changes that Eric mentioned, we’re working on making it something that flows nicely into the overall experience, rather than a piece that gets in the way of doing what you signed up to do – play.

Will CEVO introduce a new ladder system, as well as how will you manage the match ups?

**Mike:** We have a ladder hybrid already in use at Alienware Arena, and we will be using a similar system for certain events at CEVO. If there is a competitive community for a game, and that community wants more regular play than just tournaments, or more casual play than seasons, a ladder might be a good fit for them. Ladders will not replace other event types, especially not for communities that prefer seasons or tournaments. But we believe ladders can be a complementary option for players/teams with volatile schedules. One of the biggest problems that busy gamers encounter is trying to figure out a time to play their already-scheduled opponent during a normal season. The nice thing about a ladder is that you don’t have to play if you can’t, and you don’t have to play teams you don’t want to. It’s really about what the gamers want to keep their competitive community fresh and exciting. If the support is there, we could run continual ladder events and even feed teams from that into spinoff tournaments or regular seasons. Then, no matter what time of the year, gamers would always have a place to play competitively.

What are your plans on prizes? Cash, or will you be including different merchandise, like: computer parts and gear, clothing, etc?

**Charlie:** Our launch events feature cash. Since they are meant to be relatively small events to iron out bugs, it is winner-take-all format. After that we will feature a combination of cash and prizes depending on specifics of the event and the partners we are working with. We are also planning side-events to give away cash and prizes as well. For example, we may feature a cash prize to the “most accurate predictor” of a particular event, or swag for fans that are dedicated to writing articles or bios of players.

You said ‘no more pay-to-play’. Does that mean CEVO will be only free events from now on?

**Charlie:** When everybody said it couldn’t be done, CEVO was one of the first leagues to successfully run online pay-to-play events. The format served its purpose back when online e-sports needed the cash infusion to support prize pools, but we don’t believe that pay-to-play is the future of e-sports, at least not for leagues. It inherently limits the number of competitors, and by extension limits growth of the competitive community. Free-to-play brings more competitive opportunities to more gamers, and that’s where CEVO wants to be. I won’t say pay-to-play is gone for good. If the scenario arises, we may feature limited pay-to-play events as a way to boost prize pools or something of that nature, but only if the community actually wants it. For now, every upcoming event on our timeline is free-to-play.

Thank you for reading today's interview on CEVO! Check out the final product here!

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  • 5y
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    > Let’s say GameBanana wanted to run or promote a 32 team GO tournament

    Because those've been so well in the past...

    > Custom skins are a bit tricky because it does create the scenario for abuse.

    Oh it's so cute this misconception still exists, I bet they can't think of one example.
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    Mantra
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    Great read Eugene, can't wait to see how CEVO takes off.
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    > **Posted by UNREA1**

    > I've been anxious to see how they are gonna make it back, the site looks great, let's hope they succeed!

    lmao already signed up
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    I've been anxious to see how they are gonna make it back, the site looks great, let's hope they succeed!
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    Mantra
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