How the man behind the London Olympics ceremony is transforming The Copper Box into a Clash Royale esports arena

Esports News UK editor Dom Sacco takes a behind-the-scenes tour of London's Copper Box Arena, ahead of the Clash Royale Crown Championship finals this weekend.

The last time I was at The Copper Box was two years ago for DreamHack London, where I interviewed female CSGO side Team Property.

The event was okay, there was a mix of different esports tournaments but it lacked that je ne sais quoi, those fine details to make it a more memorable event: something the $1m Clash Royale Crown Championship looks set to be.

The grand finals take place there this Sunday (December 3rd) and developer Supercell has turned the arena into a giant Clash Royale-themed playground.

They've got agency Done+Dusted and Hamish Hamilton on board to help with the event, the person who directed the broadcast of the London Olympics 2012 opening and closing ceremonies.

He's also worked on things like the MTV Music Awards and Superbowls, as well as concerts for top music artists.

Here's Hamish (dude with the long hair) being papped by me from the stands: 

The production team has turned the arena floor into a giant Clash Royale projector, which will display the on-screen action in each game live. There's 8,000 sq ft of projection surfaces altogether.

Lights in the arena will be switched off during the finals on Sunday, so the projection will be well-lit and clear for the audience to see.

The idea behind this was that someone who doesn't know the game can still turn up and understand what's happening in five minutes.

 

"It was upsetting to see the esports community react [negatively] to the BAFTA win - I took it personally! I wanted to prove them wrong."
AP, Supercell

 

Production is all being done live, there will be 30 live streams available simultaneously for Supercell to tap into. They will be broadcasting across 13 different platforms in nine different languages.

Aapo Huovila, event and esport manager at Supercell, who gave me a tour of the arena, said that the company wanted to focus on the finer details at this event.

Details like all the signs that have been put up around the venue in trademark Clash Royale font, the separate booths for each casters from different countries, the banners and colour scheme - which makes it feel like Clash Royale is coming to life.

There's even a live fire pit, which will spew fire balls(!) and real-time health bars on the player podiums.

I'm not a Clash Royale player and even I'm getting quite excited about it!

Luckily for Supercell, the Copper Box's seats seem to tie-in with Clash Royale's bright and cartoony colour scheme. The capacity is 1,500 in the section that Supercell has focused on and cordoned off in the arena.

"We want to have best seat in house for everyone," Aapo Huovila from Supercell told me.

"Why are we in London? Well it's the perfect time zone to capture the European audience and other areas like Asia and America. It's also good for arranging travel to and is a cool town and lovely city."

Supercell is flying the top 16 players to London for the finals, as well as 30 top talents from around the world such as casters.

To think that the tournament is down to the last 16 players out of 27.4m entrants is staggering. And some people laughed when Clash Royale won a BAFTA.

"It was upsetting to see the esports community react [negatively] to the BAFTA win - I took it personally!" Aapo said. "I wanted to prove them wrong."

In terms of devices being used by the players, Supercell is providing tournament devices to all the players to avoid technical hitches and capture the feeds from each device.

There are player lounges with communal areas and also single seats to give the pros some alone time and practice opportunities ahead of their big matches.

The competitors will fight for their share of this year’s $1m prize pool, with $400,000 up for grabs at the Crown Championship, $150,000 of which will go to the first place winner.

All in all, this could be just the event the Copper Box needs to attract more esports tournaments - and hopefully bring back the likes of DreamHack London - in the future.

Check back on Esports News UK in the next few days for interviews with a US player and caster

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