The WePlay AniMajor was one of the most popular Dota Majors in terms of fan support. Dota fans have expressed admiration at the level of production that the event has been able to muster. From one of the most beautiful sets seen at any major to the level of communication that WePlay Esports has prioritized towards the Dota community, The WePlay AniMajor is an event to be remembered.
Upcomer had the opportunity to interview the Chief Visionary Officer and General Producer at WePlay Esports, Maksym Bilonogov. He spoke about the challenges of holding a large scale tournament during the pandemic, the time it took to make the set and how communication is imperative for this operation.
Hosting the WePlay AniMajor during the pandemic
Dota events have long been on hiatus. Since the One Esports Singapore Major, there hadn’t been an in-person tournament for fans to get excited about… until the WePlay AniMajor.
When asked about the challenges of hosting an in-person tournament during the pandemic, Bilonogov noted that WePlay Esports had ample experience in doing so.
“By the time we started organizing WePlay AniMajor, we already had experience of hosting on-site tournaments during the pandemic,” Bilonogov said.
He specifically brought up the WePlay Dragon Temple and WePlay Ultimate Fighting League Season 1, which are FGC events that WePlay Esports held at the beginning of the pandemic. According to Bilonogov, the experience gained from hosting other tournaments laid the foundation for what made the WePlay AniMajor a great event.
Bilonogov also emphasized the importance of communication with the community at all times of the WePlay AniMajor. A few days before the event started, a reddit post was released by WePlay Esports that detailed all of the COVID-19 precautions for players.
The players were housed in a separate zone of the hotel. In fact, they even had their own restaurant to use. Entrances had hand sanitizers and devices to measure body temperature. And, to ensure maximum safety, players were PCR tested twice a week. In the case that anything were to go amiss, there was a 24-hour first aid station with a doctor always on duty.
Over the course of the WePlay AniMajor, WePlay Esports continued to interact with the community through reddit and Twitter.
“Keeping in touch with the community is one of the most crucial things,” Bilonogov said. “We want the community to know that their favorite players and talents are safe, too.”
Setting the stage
One of the most striking things about the WePlay AniMajor was the stage; an anime-themed dreamscape that featured lotuses from Dota’s recent Dragon’s Blood Anime. Additionally, in the back of the stage, there was a Dota version of Naruto’s Valley of the End. The anime theme was front and center during the entirety of the WePlay AniMajor, and WePlay Esports did not hold back.
— WePlay Esports (@WePlay_Esports) June 9, 2021
“We have constructed several sets for WePlay AniMajor, each of them developed for different purposes,” Bilonogov said. “Some stage props were adapted from previous events.”
Furthermore, Bilonogov posted on Twitter, detailing the process of creating the two statues that stood at the back of the stage.
However, despite the immense amount of work that it took to set the stage fully, this was not the factor that took the longest to organize.
“I can confidently say that the hardest part was getting the privilege to host the major in the first place,” Bilonogov said. “It took us years to secure the trust of Valve and the community.”
WePlay Esports has had a history of hosting smaller Dota events. This includes the Buklovel Minor and WeSave! Charity Play. Ultimately, the opportunity to host the major was a culmination of all these earlier efforts.
WePlay Esports even created an anime opening to feature all of the prominent Dota personalities working the event.
When asked about the inspiration for the anime theme, Bilonogov mentioned that the anime and Dota 2 worlds have always existed side by side. He cited the fact that there are many crossovers of the anime theme all over the Dota 2 subreddit. This includes the recent release of Dota 2: Dragon’s Blood and even Team Liquid’s popular Naruto merchandise line.
In the words of Bilonogov himself, “Weeb vibes are everywhere. WePlay Esports just decided to emphasize this convergence of interests.”
After such a successful event, it’s exciting to see what the plans are for WePlay Esports in the future. Maybe fans will even see an International held by them. Only time will tell.