I'd like to tell you something about the circumstances that we - the HomerJ-team - got thrown into with these finals and answer some questions surrounding this event, as TotalBiscuit and Destiny have done with their tournaments before.
Why did the finals of a 2013 tournament happen in 2014?
After the finals of the ESET Winter Masters 2012 (you may remember), which we organized ourself and happened at Magnus Hall in Hamburg, a location, that is basically right next to our office, we had to cover a lot of costs for the venue ourself because of miscommunication between ESET Germany and the ESET Main Office (which is in Romania I think). We did not want to repeat this mistake, so we tried to talk to ESET MO beforehand to make sure that we would not end up paying the venue ourself again.
They disagreed with Magnus Hall though and we didn't want to do it online or in some super small location. So the talks went on and on and on and on. Until ESET finally decided to let the finals happen at GC 2014 - were we happy with that? Fuck no, it was half a year too late, but what should we do? We were glad we could even do an offline event at this point... We tried to make the best out of it and the online part of the final was a big success with great numbers on all streams. Everything looked fine, despite the delay of the Grand Finals into the middle of the next year.
Then we arrived at GamesCom and realized how bad our situation was. On Tuesday our stage wasn't nearly done and looked like absolute crap, while all the other stages at GC were already finished for some days (keep in mind that GC started on Wednesday), so our frustration started there, because we couldn't do anything about it or set up our tech. All shows for Wednesday (press/media day) were canceled, Wednesday night the ESET-crew made the stage look kind of acceptable and on Thursday we finally were able to set up our tech (but because of the shitty stage design we couldn't even use all of our cams, so thats why you only saw the caster while the games were going on).
We got screwed pretty hard there.
About the issues while the event was going on.
You noticed the sound issues, we noticed them, everyone noticed them. I am not a technician so I have no idea what happened there, but it is not acceptable to have problems like the ones we had ("NASL sound guy" came up in Twitch chat, and that is justified) - clear mistake on our end.
The delay in general was not only due to the sound issues but also other stuff:
1. Battle.net was super buggy, I couldn't invite some players or casters and lobbies got shut down automaticaly (luckily only I got kicked out of games, not someone important, so we never had to remake a game). Unfortunately that was out of our influence, so we could only restart and relog and hope it would work again.
2. We had issues with one of the player PCs, one time with graphics, one time with sound. Our mistake.
3. Players setting up took longer than expected, no ones fault, just an underestimation on our side I guess.
Why no English stream?
As I was the one responsible for non-german streams for the whole season, this issue made me sad the most. After the Online Finals, in which BaseTradeTV did a kick-ass job, I wanted to make sure they would be in for the Offline Finals as well and asked Rifkin about it. He gave me a "most likely" and a thumbs up, which I took as a yes - I mean, there was nothing else scheduled at this time and the player pool was quite good. I suppose they forgot about it though and when I sent them a reminder it was already too late. So I should have checked that earlier and made absolutely sure we had someone to cast. Also communication from the exhibition was more difficult than I had expected - when Rif was online, I wasn't. When I was online, Rif wasn't. Crucial mistake on my part and one that I am very sorry for.
This leads us to the subpar promotion. Without an english stream a big chunk of viewers go away of course, but also we didn't have any WCS points or support by Blizzard.
After EPS on Wednesday we were the only StarCraft 2-event at GamesCom, but it seems that doesn't count for anything. We applied several times for WCS points, we fullfilled all the requirements, but Blizzard never answered. That was quite frustrating for us.
All in all.
All in all we dealt with a pretty crappy situation in these finals, and for what we had at our disposal we did okay I think - the live audience was amazing once again and their support was overwhelming.
I am not sure how much I can say in public, but please don't judge our abilities or motivation by this event.
It was not the finals the fans and players deserved, nor the one we wanted.
I want to thank everyone who was involved in any way - all the casters, players and viewers in the weekly cups, the season finals and the two big finals, also a big thank you to the people who kept Liquipedia up to date all the time - you rock!
At the same time I want to apologize to the same people: I am sorry that we couldn't do better this time.