New Zealand tournament organiser and broadcaster, LetsPlay.Live (LPL), has recently kicked back into action with their third season of competition for 2020. In a year complicated by lockdowns, disruptions and a smother of COVID-19 related hurdles, we caught up with Lead Administrator Riki “Shinya” Kudo and Head of Production Daniel “Disco” Klinac to talk about the key changes they’ve made for the platform.
Riki, Dan, thanks for joining me. Starting with you Riki, what led the thought process internally for all of the changes for Season 3?
Prior to any season, we take the chance to introspect on all of our products; broadcast, the platform, pro leagues, casual competitions, and the commercial side of things. The prevailing issue we found moving on from Season 2, was a lack of uniformity across the company.
Internally and externally, broadcast and the competitions were very separate operations, where in reality they should be side by side, to deliver the best product across the board. If Dan has access to all of the information that myself and the team use to run the leagues, it gives him the tools to create the best broadcast possible for LPL. And on the flip side, if I’m able to see the intricacies and challenges faced by the production team, we can fine-tune how we run our competitions.
Dan, Riki mentioned that a key aim was bringing the uniformity into things, how’d that play into your preparation and execution of LPL broadcasts?
Even before we wrapped Season 2, I took the chance to look back on everything related to broadcast, and question it. How does the brand come across on screen? What is the identity of LPL? What is the ethos of LPL? How are we communicating that to viewers? What’s the narrative of broadcast?
It became apparent pretty quickly that our shows existed purely to compliment the league. They had the format of old sports shows, there was no feeling to anything, and I concluded that everything that we were doing with our shows, was seemingly just for the sake of it.
I put together a proposal with the team, and we identified what broadcast actually means to us, where responsibility should rest, and how that fits in across the board with our products.
How’d you go about actioning that sort of game plan?
We storyboarded every show, shuffled internal responsibility and I’ve put myself in the position to be involved in creating our shows from top to bottom, from the big meetings, to working with the team ‘boots on the ground’ style during our shows.
We focussed on TV shows, how they navigate with key plot points, and how that environment could exist within an esports/sports broadcast. A super important part was having that uniformity exist from our Pro series broadcasts, all the way to our community level broadcasts.It was, and is, imperative that someone watching LPL , regardless of the level of the competition, can inherently identify it as an LPL show.
Riki, with the new look and feel that Dan has discussed, how did you go about approaching the construction of the leagues?
I think the key area that needed to translate from broadcast to platform is Dan’s last point. We wanted to create a league hierarchy and format where people naturally felt like they were playing an LPL competition, regardless of the level they’re playing at. What are the intangibles that we can provide as a league that means people will want to come back and continue to compete within our LPL ecosystem.
What are you excited about personally with this new season compared to Season 2?
Personally, our new pay to play format is super exciting, and I think it will answer a lot of feedback and concerns that players have had. We’re moving away from the subscription format in the LPL Pro Series’, meaning that teams and organisations pay a flat rate at the beginning of the season. This will remove the ongoing challenge of subscriptions and premium being active before each game night, and let the best players in our leagues just focus on their game. In turn, that creates better competition because the players aren’t fluffing around dealing with admin.
A big part of moving into this new ‘era’ of LPL was bringing Erin "Ezza" Hughes into the LPL team. As the latest addition to the team, she was able to come into the organisation and look at everything with a fresh lens. She was a direct line of feedback from the community into our processes, which was such an invaluable asset to have.
Lastly for you Dan, what’s got you excited about Season 3?
We’ve spent so long planning and training for Season 3, more than anything I just want to get started!
Focusing on players is going to be really exciting, writing narratives, and just creating cool content has got me stoked for what the rest of the year will bring. We’ve created bespoke in-house software to assist broadcast, automated show processes so we can really focus on what matters in production, and built a fully mobile remote broadcast package so we’re nimble and agile in the current environment.
COVID-19 has brought some entirely unprecedented scenarios into play for not just production, but everyone in the LPL ecosystem, teams, players, staff and fans. We’re confident we’ve been able to assemble a truly one-of-a-kind tournament platform that is ready for whatever gets thrown at us.
Thanks to Riki and Dan for taking the time to catch up with the team at Here’s The Thing, you can find all the latest with everything LPL at their website LetsPlay.Live.