Insomnia 68 CSGO LAN organisers respond to complaints around server problems, delays, format and prizing

i68 csgo lan thomas

Photo credit: @Sophie_skittle | Insomnia esports coverage powered by AGON by AOC

Staff representing Player1 Events have addressed complaints made by CSGO players at the recent Insomnia 68 LAN event, which was won by Into the Breach.

We’ll put that in part 2 of this article, but before we get onto it, first let’s look at what happened in part 1.

Part 1: What happened at i68’s CSGO LAN?

Last weekend, the first physical Insomnia event took place in two and a half years following the start of the pandemic, and it hosted a range of esports tournaments.

There were i68 finals in the Belong Arena Clash, the NSE i68 student finals and, of course, the BYOC (Bring Your Own Computer) Opens in CSGO, Valorant, League of Legends and Overwatch.

For CSGO, things did not go smoothly, to put it mildly. There were server problems which resulted in in-game issues, rescheduling and delays to matches, with players and teams having to wait for hours to hear about their next match. Internet/servers were at times reportedly unavailable, and some matches could only be played at certain times.

28 teams were initially registered on the i68 CSGO Battlefy page, but one dropped out (The Boys, we’re told due to one of their players being ill) and weren’t removed from the draw, meaning some teams got automatic byes, while others also got automatic wins against The Boys.

Another team apparently dropped out of the event two rounds in, but one player told Esports News UK that ‘rather than leaving the team in to keep the format somewhat stable, they removed the team and then started matching up teams with different swiss records because “there was now an even amount of teams so they cannot give any byes anymore”.’

Esports News UK heard that The Boys were asked if they wanted to continue, and they chose to drop out, so they were removed from the bracket at that point.

There were scheduling issues and the inability to change certain details in the Battlefy platform, which meant a spreadsheet was used manually to sort some of the later rounds.

Seating plan problems meant some teams could see their opponents’ gameplay, so admins watched for any suspicious glances from players, presenting them with warnings – too many and the player was threatened with a forfeit. Admins were pressured into finding cardboard to use as barriers, with some teams needing to find their own to make their own barriers.

Some match-ups were incorrect, with players being told to restart against a different team, some maps were changed mid-round when they shouldn’t have, while the swiss format was criticised, as was the prize pool and its distribution.

In terms of prize pools, League of Legends (LoL) and Valorant each had a minimum £3,000 prize pool (rising to £5,000 if they would’ve had 48 teams), while Overwatch had £3,750 and CSGO had £5,000 (which would’ve risen to £6,250 if it had 64 teams).

This was lower than previous LAN events, with i65 having a £8,750 prize pool with 59 teams, i64 £6,250 with 44 teams, i63 £30,000 with 44 teams (though that was part of the old UK Masters), i62 £7,500 with 21 teams and so on. Organisers say the lower prize pool this time around was due to several factors (explained later on towards the bottom of the article).

The distribution was also weighted more towards third and fourth place. For example:

i68 CSGO top four prizes (£5,000 pool):

i65 CSGO top four prizes (£8,750 pool, there was no i66 or i67 due to the pandemic):

Some players complained about ticket prices (starting from £107.12 for the BYOC area but many paying around £120 each) and what they got for their money.

One team manager told Esports News UK: “It was extremely hard on our end to get the players motivated. They didn’t want to lose, more than they wanted to win, if that makes sense. The incentives were poor.”

Others complained about a lack of HLTV coverage, a lack of official stream coverage, and others complained about admins, though some players did show empathy towards the situation the admins had to deal with.

They did have a small team – two admins and a server manager from what we understand. Doing calculations and data collection by hand, along with managing everything and handling the criticism, would’ve resulted in a stressful situation.

Square from esports org Temperate said in a Twitlonger: “The admins themselves were inexperienced but not completely at fault. For a tournament organiser that has been running CS for two decades, you would think they would hire paid, knowledgeable admins (such as Maru or Fatal, who I believe both helped out at this event once it went to shit at no cost), to ensure that even the server config was correct.”

One member of a CSGO team told Esports News UK anonymously: “Some players were reportedly very rude to admins and voiced their frustrations poorly. That said, I feel their anger was very justified – especially with the hike in ticket prices.”

Dobbo from Into the Breach told Esports News UK regarding the issues at i68:

“It was pretty horrendous to be honest. The first two days of LAN were just terrible, I just wanted to go home if I’m honest. But as the games got shorter and we got higher into the event, it got easier to control and after that was smooth. But the start was disappointing.”

Dobbo, Into the Breach

Well-known UK CS player Smooya added: “We’re not here to bash anybody. There were some rocky moments, it was people’s first time doing it, they’re gonna make mistakes. What they need to do is hire a team that they bring to each LAN, so that they can learn from their mistakes instead of having a beginner each time. They need to figure out the system beforehand and run tests. But the second and third day were all good, so I can’t complain, I’m happy.”

Fellow experienced UK CS player Thomas also said he would not be playing Insomnia again, citing a lack of investment and reach from organisers, as well as more expensive ticket prices.

Some players posted memes and summary videos, like this and this, while UK CS player Edeninho claimed security threatened to suspend the Eko vs Into the Breach match because “there were too many people in the aisle”.

And in this Twitlonger, a player complained about uneven scoring when forfeiting:

Into the Breach were mistakenly given a 16-0 for a bye, with all others apparently recorded as 1-0, a decision that some teams disagreed with. It looks like round differential was used as an extra tiebreaker after all of the Swiss rounds had been played, but Aura and ITB’s seed going into playoffs should have been swapped.

Square also mentioned more in this separate Twitlonger:

In-depth thoughts from UKCSGO player LVN

Oscar ‘LVN’ Levin, who played for Eko Esports in the tournament, shared his complaints with Esports News UK. He said he’s ‘never been more disappointed after an event in my life’ and that it was ‘a complete and utter disaster’, but did want to give feedback to Player1 Events to help make it smoother next time.

He said: “There was some last minute seeding on Friday morning at the start of event, so barely anyone even saw it before it started, admins didn’t even know themselves if the matchups were seeded or random, and we got different responses each round that some may have been seeded, some random.

“It’s also safe to say myself and other higher teams at the event were extremely disappointed and angry to find out from the admins that the thought hadn’t even crossed their mind to apply for HLTV coverage. Insomnia would have easily got this with the TO history, prize pool and it being a LAN event. For this to not even be looked at is just really shocking to be honest.

“HLTV coverage for UK CSGO teams is extremely important for the growth of the scene and the carelessness from the admin team to not even attempt to get HLTV coverage, let alone even think about getting it, is just poor.

“Even the intermediate tournament was planned poorly. For example the lower bracket final was happening at the same time as the intermediate final, due to the in-game server plugin being five years outdated and awful. We can’t change the maps and the veto system doesn’t work, so have to ask the admin team to change the map.

“But it turns out that they changed the map to Vertigo in the intermediate final and not our match, the intermediate final was mid-game when suddenly, mid-round, their map has been changed, and then proceeded to take 15 minutes to figure out how to restore their match back to where it should be. It’s amateur stuff like this which just shouldn’t be a thing when you’re talking about a £5,000 event and how much teams have to pay to come to the event.

“For UKCS players we only have two LAN events to choose from, with i-Series being the supposedly bigger event, which is also a lot more expensive. For the event to be run poorly and unprofessional is extremely disappointing.”

Oscar ‘LVN’ Levin, Eko Esports

“There was also seating plan issues. One of the most laughable and stupid decisions made for this event was how the CS admin team were planning on dealing with instances where teams could see what was happening on opposing teams’ monitors.

“There would be an admin sent over to observe the teams and watch their eyeline, and then the admin would see if a player looks up from his screen. If so, they would be given a warning, and then if done a second time, they would be forfeited. I was extremely dumbfounded when I saw this, it’s so vague and up to the admins’ interpretation what is looking up from a screen and what’s not.

“Some simple large pieces of cardboard were found and able to be used as barriers.”

There was not a single stream provided by Insomnia until the stage grand finals, whereas for i65 there was at least one stream running throughout.

“To summarize, for UKCS players we only have two LAN events to choose from, with i-Series being the supposedly bigger event, which is also a lot more expensive, for the event to be run poorly and unprofessional is extremely disappointing. Even though I and a lot of people feel as though at least partial refunds are both deserved and we are entitled to, realistically this won’t happen.”

Part 2: What the organisers said in response to i68 CSGO LAN complaints

insomnia gaming festival logo 2022

Dom Sacco sat down with Adam ‘Blanks’ Heath, founder of Reason Gaming and news site UKCSGO, to get his side of the story. Player1 Events esports manager Matt ‘Kharne’ Macdonald also answered our final question around the prize pool and ticket prices.

Please tell us your responsibilities and job role at Insomnia 68.

Adam Heath: I am a contractor for Player1Events. I am not a full-time member of staff, but just brought in for iSeries to setup, manage and maintain the CSGO servers (and any other game that might need them) over the event.

I was first brought in for i64 as I’ve been running Counter-Strike servers since the release of Source and an iSeries attendee since i30.

Please tell us about the setup at Insomnia. What was your initial plan?

The initial plan was to improve upon where we left off pre-covid. Since joining the team at i64, the biggest complaint has always been the quality of the servers, which have patchy performance. This was due to old hardware being used to run the servers. I brought these previous complaints up in my pre-event chats with Player1 Events and they were very receptive to fixing it.

We explored avenues regarding the best route to take and settled with me providing hardware, so I had the chance to pre-configure the servers and remove some of the stress from the Thursday setup. I’ve had a 16 core/32 thread AMD Threadripper sitting in the wings that I’ve been keen to use at LAN for a couple of events now.

Not wanting to put all eggs in one basket, I also ordered two additional machines (i7, 16GB RAM) to spread the load. These machines were meant to be shipped from Germany and delivered in one to four days. A week after placing the order there was no sign of the servers, so I started to chase, but was met with radio silence.

15 days after my order, I got an email saying the order was being shipped from China instead of Germany and I could expect it in several months’ time, rather than the expected four days. This wasn’t ideal, so I cancelled the order and started planning a new option – but only had a couple of days before the event to sort things out.

The new plan consisted of taking a couple of PCs from Player1 Events and creating some additional servers on them. This opened up the door for more issues as the motherboard in the brand new i9 PC didn’t have Linux support and all my automation setup scripts were written for Linux, so I had to start manually configuring the Windows servers. By this point, the tournament had just started and new problems were just around the corner…

What went wrong and why?

We started the tournament off running all the servers off the one Threadripper machine. The quality wasn’t ideal but it was on par with the previous iSeries, so I wasn’t too worried and expected to have the Windows servers set up in time for round two to improve the quality moving forward.

As more games in round one went live, the server reached a tipping point and stalled. No network connectivity, no local output. I restarted the machine and took a quick look at the logs to see if there was anything glaringly obvious but there was no sign of hardware failure and looked to be an issue with I/O stress. To get around this, I started up fewer servers on the Threadripper machine to keep some games running, while I went back to work on getting the Windows servers working and configured.

“As someone who’s played in countless LANs, managed teams through countless more, and now worked several, I sympathise with the frustration and it’s shared. Neither the admins nor I wanted to find ourselves in that position but we worked non-stop to resolve it.”

Adam ‘Blanks’ Heath

What steps were taken to try and fix the problem?

This is where things got a little messy. A quick resolution was obviously needed, and I’d hit a brick wall on setting up the Windows servers. The first attempt at a solution was three Linux virtual machines that were hosted on a hefty host. Setup was fast as we could use my automated setup script to get everything ready, but the servers were unplayable so were just as quickly canned off.

In this time, Kharne suggested using online servers which he ordered and passed over to me to set up. After setting them all up and handing out some of those IPs, we found configuration mismatches despite them all using the same source configs. Some servers had no friendly fire, some had disappearing guns when they were dropped. This was no good and so that solution was also rejected – I turned my focus back to the Windows server as that was the best option, I just needed to focus on it and not keep hopping from idea to idea.

By round two of the tournament, I had the Windows server all set up and we were back to full capacity with the load spread across the two boxes. The only reason the tournament kept moving was because of the hard work Lisa (head CS admin) did monitoring every game and recycling their server to get another game underway once it was available.

What would you say to the CS players and teams who were affected by this?

As someone who’s played in countless LANs, managed teams through countless more, and now worked several, I sympathise with the frustration and it’s shared. Neither the admins nor I wanted to find ourselves in that position but we worked non-stop to resolve it.

Some players are great. They asked what was going on, accepted we were working on it and thanked us for our work. Others were less understanding and decided to be vocal about their frustration. If that’s how they want to conduct themselves, that’s up to them.

Why was the swiss format used?

Swiss has been used at iSeries for a while now as it’s a chance to give players more games to play than standard groups into bracket format and negates the always-popular disagreement over seedings. It also stops an unexpected ‘group of death’ from appearing.

Issues arose with groups at round three, when some players started to complain about their matchups, either due to not fully understanding how swiss works, or due to teams getting default wins putting them in a more advantageous position just by luck.

People started to request we move away from Battlefy’s automation and start working out each round manually. It was said that this would cause even more delays, but the general response was they didn’t care about waiting and so a spreadsheet was created to start calculating all past results and matchups so we could continue with round three of five.

“Why have the ticket prices gone up? Pretty much everything we need to build and run an event now costs more. We are doing what we can to build an event that is sustainable and keeps on running.”

Matt ‘Kharne’ Macdonald, Player1 Events

Was an attempt to apply for HLTV coverage made? Why/why not? Some players were disappointed about this.

It’s a fair thing to be disappointed about. In all honesty, the thought didn’t cross my mind until I heard it mentioned in Twitch chat mid-finals.

This was something sorted out by someone who was not part of the team at this event and was not a listed responsibility of anyone’s role. After all the issues we faced, it wasn’t on anyone’s mind. It was an oversight that will be corrected next event.

Will any refunds or partial refunds be issued?

I can’t speak for Player1 Events on that, but in my mind refunds shouldn’t be issued. While I understand people bought a ticket to play in the tournament, the tournament isn’t part of the ticket price. The BYOC ticket gives people access to the BYOC hall for the weekend, the expo and the chance to enter any tournament that’s taking part of the weekend.

While there were issues with the tournament, it still ran and completed on time. The only time I’d expect a refund to be a thing is if a tournament was completely cancelled mid-event but even then it’s at the discretion of Player1 Events.

(Esports News UK also sent this question to Player1 Events but didn’t receive a direct answer to it, though they did respond to our question at the bottom of this article)

I understand there were delays around the server you ordered. Someone asked me – ‘why was the server shipped from China not Germany due to Brexit rules’?

The company I ordered from was a Chinese-based company with a warehouse in Germany. On their site they said that European orders would come from Germany, everywhere else would be from China. It’s now apparent that this is misleading as they mean to say European Union countries come from Germany and everywhere else including the UK comes from China.

This is obviously fallout from Brexit, but doesn’t explain why they still listed UK as a one to four day delivery time, I imagine this is just outdated from pre-Brexit.

“Out of everything that was said, the thing that hit the hardest is ‘the admins don’t care’. Every team of admins I’ve worked with have been warriors. The only reason the tournament kept moving was because of the hard work Lisa (head CS admin) did monitoring every game and recycling their server to get another game underway once it was available.”

Adam ‘Blanks’ Heath

I was told that some admins didn’t seem to know how to use plugins, or if there were any plugins for match medic, they had to manually set up overtime via commands, since it was not enabled via default. Why was this the case?

The existence of round backups and the ability to replay rounds was never in question. Every game had round backups enabled, the only time it wasn’t used was after the server crash and that’s because we weren’t sure if it was going to be stable enough to continue running the tournament on. After round one of the swiss bracket, we had maybe four more occasions where this feature was used, including in the grand finals.

The command to enable overtime was set in two separate configurations which were executed in an order, which meant the first config enabled overtime and the second one disabled it. As we didn’t have any games go to overtime til the later rounds, this wasn’t made apparent til we hit the issue. This was the only occasion where overtime had to be triggered manually.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I think out of everything that was said either to, or about us, the thing that hits the hardest is: “The admins don’t care”.

There is a reason why UK events struggle to get CS admins. Every team of admins I’ve worked with have been warriors working through problem after problem, giving up their time to make an event happen.

If we didn’t care, we wouldn’t do the job and we’d join the long list of other admins that have given up admining and moved on.

Why were prize pools substantially lowered while ticket prices increased?

Esports manager Matt Macdonald: With BYOC tournaments we have (almost) always operated with a scaling prize pool for the majority of our tournaments. We are a grassroots-tier tournament organiser and fund our prize pools with contributions from BYOC tickets.

This being our first event back, across the whole show we had to be cautious with committing to large costs due to the complete unknown of the effect of two years off and the pandemic looming over the planning. However, saying this we still had some optimism about CSGO and still kept the minimum prize fund at £5,000 (scaling to £6,250 at the 64-team threshold) whereas the other tournaments were at a more standard £3,000 with regular prize triggers.

The Insomnia-funded prizes would also be boosted if we had a sponsor that contributed. Unfortunately, at this event we had no such sponsor (again, partially due to some nervousness about whether people would come to a convention after the two years). CSGO was our biggest BYOC tournament by attendance, but we still saw a relatively low turnout at only 28 teams, indicating that caution may have been the best route.

Without speculating, I’m keen to see the effect a game like Valorant may have had on this attendance figure (21 teams at the first-ever tournament we have run on it).

For the second part – why have the ticket prices gone up? Pretty much everything we need to build and run an event now costs more. This won’t come as a surprise to anyone. Power, network, equipment, staff, food, fuel… I could make a huge list but I won’t labour the point.

We are doing what we can to build an event that is sustainable and keeps on running, and the LAN tournaments are always something we are keen on continuing even without sponsors or huge budgets, but this might mean some are smaller than others.

Thank you for your answers.

What about the other esports tournaments at i68?

While CSGO had its problems, the Valorant LAN was praised by participants.

For League of Legends, there were some complaints about scheduling and delays around match times. Some players complained to Esports News UK that they felt i68 LoL winners Grey Warwick had preferential treatment from the admins, as their team were also participating in the NSE i68 university esports finals, as well as the BYOC Open.

This meant admins did their best to allow Grey Warwick (and all other teams) to play all their matches. This resulted in some delays to matches, rescheduling or other LoL teams reportedly being told to suddenly be ready to play their next match – or suffer a forfeit.

Some LoL teams were disappointed as they were apparently told they couldn’t attend the pub quiz, they also felt they were unable to have lunch or take bathroom breaks when it suited them as they felt they had to play around Grey Warwick’s changing schedule.

There was also the Overwatch LAN – but we didn’t hear about any problems or anything significant about the setup here.

Bonus part: ‘Please put these CS clans in a sound-proof air-tight box’

Finally, what about complaints made about the CSGO players themselves? We’re all for reporting objectively here at Esports News UK, so it only felt right to include this too.

The UK CSGO scene are a vocal bunch – sometimes so vocal they receive complaints of their own.

One person in the BYOC area said: “Please put these CS clans in a sound proof air tight box next event. I moved seats as I was going to end up losing my temper and hurting one of them severely.”

They complained about CS players crowding behind their chairs, ‘loud screaming’ and ‘screeching like wounded sheep every 15 seconds’, being ‘clowns that scream “nice” on every kill or assist trying to out-do each other on how loud they can scream’.

On that note, we’re out of here. Thanks for reading this (congrats on getting this far, or just scrolling to the bottom because you couldn’t be bothered to read it all) and we’ll see you next time.

For those who prefer videos to articles, we’ll be doing a live news recap stream on the Esports News UK Twitch channel tomorrow night (Friday April 22nd from around 9.30pm). Hope to see you in the chat.

Insomnia esports coverage powered by AGON by AOC – see the AGON League of Legends monitor here and more i68 esports news here

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2 years ago

Just play TF2 at I69, ez

2 years ago
Reply to  Anonymous

If there is a TF2 tournament – won’t be like the good old days of TF2 events.