Saudi Arabia hosted the region’s biggest global gaming tournament at the end of Riyadh Season.
Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds, or simply PUBG, is one of the world’s most popular games today. The tournament, in Saudi, took place between December 12th and 14th 2019 and sixteen teams from the Middle East and North Africa region competed with sixteen teams from the rest of the world.
This isn’t the first time that PMSC has gone to the Middle East for its finals; however, it was the first time such an event has ever been held in KSA and the first time SLS has worked on such a complicated eSports event in terms of its AVL requirements. While the majority of viewership would be online, there was still a sizable live audience witnessing the show designed by Live Legends that SLS would have to cater to.
SLS Production supplied all the Audio, Trussing and Lighting technology creating the most spectacular and amazing experience for the spectators and viewers. The concept, design, and show direction was by Live Legends team from Netherlands.
SLS Production had a number of stocked options capable of catering for the audio at such an event, however the team opted for Meyer Sound’s Leopard line array for the main stage system. Deploying a total of 68 Leopards, 16 Lina cabinets and 16 110LFC subwoofers, the main PA clusters were strategically zoned and formed from six clusters of eight Leopards. Further 4×2 Leopard clusters catered for the VIP area, while 2×8 Lina front fills were stacked along the edge of the stage. The 1100LFC subwoofers were placed under the stage in a sub line configuration and the entire system was powered by a combination of eight Meyer Sound MDM5000 and three MDM832 power distribution units. System management was provided courtesy of four Meyer Sound Galaxy Galileo 816 and two Galaxy 816 AES processors and the entire audio system was networked over AVB, with Luminex Gigacore 10 and Extreme Network X440-G2 scalable switches interfacing with the redundant Digico SD12s at front of house. The SD12s were accompanied by SD-Mini Racks to accommodate additional stage inputs.
The Leopard was chosen as the best solution to cater for this event by the Live Legends Sound Designer Wilfrid Evenblij, because of its compact dimensions, 110° horizontal coverage and ‘extraordinary power-to size-ratio’.
‘The sound system deployment went smoothly, however, we had to wait for the main power to be switched over from temporary to permanent before we could properly test the entire system,’ explains SLS Project Director, André Du Toit. ‘This meant we could only do limited testing and troubleshooting before the event started. Thankfully this ended up not being an issue at all, and on the show days we didn’t encounter any problems.’
In contrast to our live music performance experience, a gaming competition has a number of unique elements to integrate, which complicate a stage setup. The contestants, referees, games commentators and live presenters are all central parts of the production and need to be clearly heard. To cater for this, SLS supplied a selection of DPA D:fine 4088 headset mics along with a Shure Axient Digital wireless microphone system, comprising ADX1 beltpack transmitters and ADX2 handheld transmitters fitted with KSM8 capsules. Shure PSM1000 ear-in monitors provided foldback for everyone on-stage. SLS worked closely with the Broadcaster sharing audio feeds between both systems.
With the event’s primary viewership watching online, the dazzling set designed and whole show direction by Netherlands-based Live Legends, bore more resemblance to a prime-time TV programme than a gaming competition. This was even more necessary due to the fact that competitors are competing on their handheld mobile phones. There were no flashy computer setups present to help decorate the stage.
‘A design was compiled by show designers from Live Legends, and based on their design, SLS supplied a significant amount of equipment in order to outdo their expectations,’ notes Du Toit.
In terms of lighting, this meant deploying over 800 fixtures – 92 Mega Pointes, 104 Robin Pointes, 24 BMFL Wash Beams and 120 Spiders from Robe, 87 Mac Viper Performance from Martin were called upon alongside 44 Mythos, 100 Sharpy Plus and 58 B-EYE K15 from Claypaky, 90 Philips Varilite SL Bar 720ZT, 44 SGM Q7 RGBW, 34 ETC SourceFour Zoom and 34 Arri 2,000W fresnels. The Lighting control was from two MA Lighting grandMA3 Full Size and two grandMA2 Full Size consoles, as well as a pair of grandMA2 Light, all networked via 10 grandMA2 NPUs.
‘In order to achieve the concept and design by the Live Legends team, we had to use a large number of fixtures,’ adds the Production Manager. ‘The precise spacing of the lighting fixtures was very important in achieving the desired look and feel of the overall design.’
To support this mammoth lighting rig, SLS used more than 700m of Eurotruss HD44 and HD34, as well as another 110m of LITEC 30×30. In total, there were 192 electric hoists of various brands deployed, including Liftkets, CM, Load Star and Chain Masters, along with 21 ‘dead hangs’ where the truss was directly rigged to the hall ceiling. To help spectators in the arena follow the action in real-time, 280 Martin VDO Sceptron 10 LED units created large arrows pointing away from the main stage.
‘As the roof did not have the capability to support this massive design, the venue had to come up with a solution and had an independent Eurotruss TT rectangular truss system constructed, configured as four massive square box truss structures which were used as mother grid with the ground support of 16 towers,’ recalls Du Toit. ‘It took a lot of pre-planning to pull off such a complicated rig. In total, there was around 32 Tonnes load on this entire rig, which included the complete Leopard audio system, 800-plus lighting fixtures and 81m of LED Screens, in addition to the weight of the truss and hoists themselves. Lastly, a range of products from Magic FX added intensity to the live arena action in the form of pyrotechnics, moving CO₂ cannons, shooting flames and simulated fireworks, confetti cannons and haze effects.’
While the PMSC competition undoubtedly stretched the SLS team in terms of its complexity, the main challenge was the logistics of supplying such a large amount of equipment in a very tight time frame. ‘Being in Saudi Arabia, we faced serious challenges, with shipments being stuck at the border, which caused a massive delay in delivering the final product in time,’ explains Du Toit. ‘Because of this, and always with a “safety first” approach, two 12-hour days were needed. We worked around the clock in order to get the rig completed in time.’
‘Our timeframe for rigging was four days,’ he continues. ‘Initially, rigging was proceeding ahead of schedule and by the end of the second day we had already completed 70% of the rigging plan. Unfortunately, some rigging points were interlinked with lighting fixtures that had been delayed in customs, and by the time they were released, we had just two days to handover. It was a big challenge for the rigging team to meet that deadline, but with a vigorous effort and extra hours put in by the team we were able to achieve all of the client’s requirements on time. It was certainly a proud moment for us and it has been a pleasure being part of the PMSC World Cup 2019.’
The opening part of the show was really something special and, frankly, just spectacular,’ concludes Du Toit. ‘The broadcasted content was on point with the original concept renders. All credits to Live Legends for the concept to execution, Banana Culture, Unlimited Productions, and, of course, our SLS team for turning their vision into reality. The biggest challenge on this project was time. Because of the customs and logistical issues we faced, and the only aspect that I would do differently is to employ a local wrangler to handle those logistical aspects, as language was the major barrier.’