RGL has recently announced their LAN Invite playoffs for RGL Season 2. As the first event of its kind since ESEA Season 18, it may do well to look back at the tragic epic of the recently departed BTS LAN and finally bring some semblance of closure to the community.
Since the end of the Rewind LANs, many efforts have been made to bring international competition back to the Land of the Free, beginning with the failed Episode III, whose collapse was detailed here. This is where our story begins.
I. Beyond the Summit
It is the weekend of January 11th, and rather than marking another world championship match on American soil, these days instead mark the fateful meeting of samiface, Dashner, and Console-, where the seeds of what would become known as BTS LAN emerged. To summarize months of effort among the group and loris, a proposal was sent, a contract was signed, and more organizers were recruited, including one tsc as tournament admin, all completed just past the ending of i65. Here is where things began to grow rocky. Numerous individuals in the community were revealed to be engaging in inappropriate relations with minors, and Beyond the Summit enforced tough restrictions on marketing and branding. On the latter point, BTS representatives wanted to emphasize how the LAN was merely to be hosted, not organized or sponsored by BTS, and thus limited the use of their branding towards the event. Nevertheless, for the purposes of clarity, the event will continue to be called “BTS LAN” for the remainder of the article.
Even combined, none of these minor stressors really posed a serious threat to the LAN, which instead owed its initial demise to the departure of key staff members as a result of two major events. First, Console- privately discussed with samiface the former’s personal relationship with Dashner, which was later detailed in a since-deleted thread and a subsequent Dexerto article. This ultimately led to both production leads departing from the event.
The final nail in the coffin resulted from alfa's public lament of his team’s exclusion from the event. Despite placing third in the qualifying tournament, alfa was barred from competing after organizers privately obtained complaints regarding his personal conduct. Subsequent community backlash caused tsc to step down as tournament director. With this loss of staff, samiface publicly announced the cancellation of the project the following day, notably without consulting any other staff members.
After samiface's surprise announcement cancelling the project, the remaining staff members took up the difficult task of reviving the event. This was a major uphill battle, faced with the task of obtaining a new venue as more and more teams cancelled by the day.
The team first tried to reach back out to BTS, but were met with this response:
From the beginning, this tournament was the project of [samiface] and her team. Our role was to provide a venue and equipment for their staff to use during the LAN. I believe they were still looking into branding and titling for their event until recently. As her team has effectively dissolved, I don't see the event going forward in our space as they'd planned.
With the loss of the original venue, the task was set to find a new space in a nearby location on the same days, as to accommodate the original travel plans made for BTS LAN. Through ESL staff member mitch, ESL's Burbank venue was floated as a possible option, and online searching (through the popular internet search engine Google) yielded UC Irvine as another possibility. Organizers were initially reluctant to reach out to Esports Arena, the organizer for the two Rewind LANs, due to prior conflicts. Eventually, however, a local community representative offered to meet in-person with ESA representatives.
Initially, things looked positive. ESL quickly replied and agreed to meet, while UC Irvine went as far to confirm availability for the suggested dates and provide a pricing outline. Unfortunately, progress quickly broke down over the next few days. ESL proved unable to confirm availability for their venue until roughly mid-December, and UC Irvine suddenly ceased communication. On the ESA front, they found that their venues were unavailable for the days required for LAN. With the loss of all venue possibilities nearly two weeks after the initial cancellation, staff were again forced to put down the event, this time for good.
While TF2 is still left without an international North American LAN for the foreseeable future, any lessons taken from this experience will hopefully benefit efforts in the future. For now, we can all satiate our LAN withdrawal with the upcoming RGL and RGB LANs, while building anticipation for the future. In that spirit, we leave you with the parting words of the BTS staff.
The crew of organizers behind this recent attempt remain optimistic about the future of Team Fortress 2 LAN tournaments in North America. It is our hope that in January 2021 North America can host a premier TF2 event that matches the caliber of Copenhagen Games and InsomniaLAN.
A reference to XIAO was removed after the information was revealed to be second-hand hearsay originated from Dashner.
All remaining information is believed to be accurate, although corrections will be added if needed.