Esports events have been impacted by COVID-19 with many being cancelled or transitioned to online. As restrictions begin to ease there will be a return to hosting physical events. In this article (and the accompanying checklist) we provide some guidance on how to prepare and what to consider.

Historically team tournaments would have players sitting in a row of 5 or 6 depending on the game choice. League of Legends, CS:GO, DOTA2 and many of the other top esports titles use a 5v5 structure. Titles such as Tekken, Mortal Kombat and FIFA are normally played 1v1 which mean a different set of requirements.

 

The old way of configuring layouts for team-based tournaments

When we created tournaments before COVID-19 we aimed to give each player a space of 1m (Width) and 1.5m (Depth).  This gives enough room for players to push their seats back a little bit and enough desk space for their equipment. Space between rows is also added for ease of player movement.

 

Pre- COVID-19 tournament layout

Teams would often sit back-to back or as in the image above, their tables and PCs would back onto each other. This enabled more teams to sit and play in a space.

Here’s a common layout to fit multiple teams into a space. There are walkways between the clusters of players and at the sides of each area.

Pre- COVID-19 tournament seating clusters

 

What new ways could layouts be configured?

Guidance on social distancing suggests keeping 2m away from other people as the best option and wearing masks. If using voice software, a mask should not impact the ability to communicate with teammates. The biggest impact for esports events after COVID-19 will come from a lack of proximity. High-fives and fist bumps have become common to acknowledge performance and success.

New team seating for esports tournaments

 

The above layout has 2m spacing between each player table/seating area. This has increased the total required space to 13m (Width) and 1.5m (Depth). This doesn’t consider the 2m spacing on the end of the row near Players 1 and 5. Adding this would take the space required to 17m (Width).

Team-based tournament that have 6 players in a time like Overwatch will need additional space. The total width for 6 players would be 20m.

An alternative layout would move away from the long row format and into small clusters. This will be a better option for venues that don’t have the necessary width.

Esports team layout cluster

 

This would enable venues with a width of 12m to house team-based tournaments. There would be room to have walkways on either side of the team (11m in the above image plus a little extra).

The biggest challenge will be finding venues with the appropriate dimensions. Using the small cluster layout about you would need a venue with dimensions of at least 12m (Width) and 24m (Depth). This would support 4 teams playing at the same time. For 2 teams at the same time it would be 12m (Width) and 12m (Depth).

 

Operational considerations

Not only are layouts a consideration but there will also be operational considerations. We’ve provided a checklist of 10 items you should be thinking about when planning your esports event.

  1. Entry and exit to the venue: Can you set up separate entry and exit points so that people can be tested on entry to the venue?
  2. Testing on venue entry: What mechanisms can you put in place to test people on entry?
  3. Masks and/or Gloves: In many countries masks are being encouraged so do you make this a requirement for entry to the venue?
  4. Players bringing their own equipment: You may want to stipulate that players bring their own keyboards/mice/headsets/mousepads so that they only touch their own equipment.
  5. Disinfecting seats, table areas and PCs: Build time into the schedule for disinfecting the playing area after every match if teams are required to move.
  6. Adjusted scheduling: Allow more time for people entering the venue if you are putting checks in place. Also consider the tournament schedule and format and whether it is possible to keep teams sat in the same seats for multiple matches.
  7. Allowing coaches: Team coaches often roam around behind a team, but this presents risks in terms of people moving and the space required so do you allow coaches?
  8. Sanitiser provision: Depending on the number of players and teams competing you could provide each player with a small tub of sanitiser gel or disinfectant wipes.
  9. Commentators and analysts: There will also need to be suitable spacing and considerations if you are providing any commentary/analysis for broadcasts of your tournaments.
  10. Cabling and power: With a wider spread in the layout of your tournament you will need to consider cable routing and health and safety.

We’ve also created an image version so you can save it and refer to it later as you plan for esports events after COVID-19. Click here to open the image version of the checklist.

Philip Wride