What do we want from UK Event Coverage? – Shared Discovery by Rob Wagner
Hi all, today we’re going to look at a rising phenomenon – that of UK event coverage. Recently the splendid chaps at Caravel Gaming (click here for their youtube channel) and the relative newcomers at Metagames Live (click here for there facebook page) have been bringing event coverage of UK events. Metagames have been engaging in the recent rise of live streaming to bring the games as they happen, whereas Caravel have been recording material on site but making it available later and focusing much more on quality content.
Some people have discussed it a bit already on Facebook and twitter but I wonder what people really want out of their event coverage and how they want to be able to use it to benefit them. There are two distinct styles of coverage mentioned above and I think it would be good to look at how to improve coverage during an event and how to improve it for use afterwards. Note that these are just suggestions for what I would want someone to do if they were beginning coverage from scratch and the existing coverage teams do most of these very well already.
Coverage During Events
Well, clearly the most fundamental quality of good coverage during an event is that it is being broadcast live on the internet and is viewable. It should be the case that anyone going onto the channel page can immediately see when in the tournament we are (is it live or a re-run), who is playing what, and what actually is in play and is going on. If we can’t see the cards and we don’t know what is happening then there is no point in watching it at all for me.
I would prefer it if I was watching players I know, and due to my engagement with the UK PTQ scene that generally means the good and the well known players. While I would be ecstatic to watch Alex Gershaw and Andy Pemberton in round 1 of the Sheffield PTQ (well, except that then one of my friends would have to lose) because they are two good friends of mine from playing in Leeds and it’d be sweet to see them on camera, I have to wonder what proportion of people reading this have heard of them as they rarely go to PTQs. Yes, there are always the new up-and-comers to watch but if coverage wants me to watch round 2 of their event then they have to show me someone I know (or should have heard of) or I’m going to go do something else.
I don’t really care about what decks are on show but I don’t think that is an opinion shared by everyone. I don’t really want to see homebrew on homebrew action and I don’t care about seeing some new “sweet” deck in action, I’d rather see good players making interesting decisions with good decks.
Lastly, I want the commentators to know something about
a) the game of Magic and
b) the players in the UK scene.
I have watched coverage where the feature match was random vs random when a table or two over is a game between two players with multiple Pro Tour appearances each – this shouldn’t happen! The analysis made by many that coverage should have one `colour’ commentator and one `gaming’ commentator seems fair so that there is excitement but so that it’s not just two people trying to work out what an Island does.
Coverage After Events
What do I want to see from recorded coverage after an event has happened? Well, I have to know the context of the recording – in archived footage if it has a helpful title and it is mentioned in the video then that is superb. Also, each video has to be able stand-alone – that is to say that I shouldn’t need to watch anything else to understand what is happening.
I’d also like it to be useful to learn from and improve from. The Caravel footage is especially good for this as they commentate on matches as they are happening but are always exploring the reasoning for different plays and choices the players make.
It also helps tie the whole thing together if there is an over-arching story line going on that I can follow between the videos (but remember that each one should be able to exist by itself). This may draw me into watching more videos if I get caught by one that I enjoyed.
PTQ Dragon’s Maze: Manchester – Post Round 1 Interview
Using it to Improve Yourself
A brilliant use of coverage if you have been in a match is what you can go back and learn from it. You can go and hear what the commentators were thinking about your decisions and plays – you don’t have to agree with them but it will present you with some different thoughts that you may have not had. You can also get a friend to help you go through it yourselves.
As an example of this I got a great friend of mine, Matt Light, who is an excellent player of Magic and a top guy, to watch one of my matches from the Manchester PTQ. We loaded the video on youtube, shared screens via Skype and watched it together commenting on any decisions that could be made. Even though we largely agreed we both pointed out things that the other hadn’t spotted and I think came away having learned something as a result.
Watch this 20 minute clip of us going through my match to see what we were looking at – maybe there’s something else you spotted that we didn’t?
I think event coverage of UK events is a great thing to exist and I love watching both my friends and the good players battling on camera. So long as it is of a high quality and the right feature matches are chosen I think it can be extremely exciting.
To be the most useful it can be we need commentators who know what they are talking about both in terms of the game of Magic and of the UK scene and they need to make sure it is timeless so it can be looked at later on and still be watchable.
As an individual some of the best use I can get from it is discussing with friends the various plays that are made and how we might have done things differently. Really reasoning things out helps to understand someone else’s perspective on the game and you really can learn a lot in a short space of time by going into things together.
What do you think, have I missed anything important out?
@DrRobWagner on Twitter