Lawo Supplies Audio Hardware for New Esports Arena in Las Vegas

Envisioned as both a live performance and broadcast venue, Allied Esports International began drafting plans for a dual-purpose facility at the iconic Luxor hotel pyramid on the Las Vegas strip in mid-2017. It was to be a premium environment for gaming, where teams would face each other in league play before a live audience with multiple cameras and audio sources serving large displays and a front-of-house audio system in real time.

Esports Arena Las Vegas

In addition, Esports wanted the capability to produce, package, and distribute events with broadcast quality production values — to be streamed in real time to audiences around the world through subscription-based services.

As the chosen venue was formerly a nightclub designed to host DJs and music with full video and audio, the aim was to repurpose its existing A/V systems — but much of the infrastructure proved inadequate, lacking the connectivity and bandwidth for broadcast-style live sports. System Integrator CBT Systems was called in.

“We knew immediately that changes would be required just to support the basic infrastructure of the facility and update it for this new application, as well as for future potential uses. Fiber instead of copper, an enhanced and an upgraded sound system that would support not only an FOH mix, but a live broadcast mix as well, and the ability to separately switch video and add graphics and audio to live stream the events to the web,” says Darrel Wenhardt, President & CEO of CBT Systems. “The facility needed a complete interior acoustical treatment, so we turned to Chips Davis of Chips David Designs and Shawn Mackie of STS Audio Consulting for the acoustical design and sound systems.

“Also, it became apparent that a conventional FOH console was not going to deliver the functionality required to support higher-quality audio and multiple simultaneous mixes for both the live audience as well as the online viewers,” he continues. “We’ve worked extensively with Lawo, who have developed consoles specifically for these types of challenges and are used around the world to manage major global events including sports, live performance, and networked production infrastructures. Lawo was an easy and obvious choice and provided exactly what was needed, while also being able to offer custom workflows for the unique aspects of Esports events.”

Serving a JBL VTX PA system, CBT placed a 24-fader Lawo mc²36 console at FOH and a further 24-fader mc²36 console in the production control room, both connected and networked via RAVENNA to all the house audio I/O through a Lawo NOVA37 Router. The I/O includes four Lawo compact I/O stageboxes (offering 32 Mic/Line I/O, 8 AES I/O, 8 GPIO, 1 MADI ports) positioned around the venue and A__mic8 AES67 Audio-Over-IP interfacing.

“We were excited by the opportunity to work with CBT Systems and Esports on this project,” says Michael Mueller, VP of Sales for Lawo in the USA. “We’ve been involved in broadcast live sports and entertainment production since our inception, and recently have been providing networked audio production infrastructures for gaming and live streaming customers as well. It was a great fit for our technologies to be able to marry both live sound as well as broadcast/streaming mixes from the same platform.”

The entire facility design and rebuild took place over a five-month period, with Lawo personnel on site to support CBT Systems and Esports for commissioning and training.

Lawo mc²36 console

“It was critical that we get this right on the first pass and there were definitely some time constraints involved in meeting an accelerated schedule for deployment, once we opened we were open with no down-time in our event schedule,” says Esports Venue Manager Michael Buetsch. “We relied a lot on CBT’s experience with live production infrastructures to bridge the gap between what the facility already had, and what was needed to take event production to the next level for our new tenants.

“Our audio ops were a little unsure at first, as most of them had never worked on a Lawo console, but the Lawo team did a great job of training and guiding our staff through the start up process and the results on day one of our first production were impressive.”

“The Lawo console is extremely open and configurable, and works flawlessly with the company’s audio router and stageboxes,” Mackie adds.

“Today, we are seeing that audiences are consuming content differently. As a result, the industry is seeing the explosion of this kind of space,” says Drew Ohlmeyer, Head of Content, Allied Esports International and Esports Arena Las Vegas. “Our mission was to build a turnkey infrastructure to do many different live events, as well as produce content in a style and quality that meets or exceeds current broadcast standards.”

Since opening in March 2018, the arena has become a Mecca for amateur gamers, hosting record-breaking events with gaming personalities and arena-scale, high-stakes gaming competitions.

“The Lawo team came in and gave us great support and expedited delivery on the entire system,” concludes Wenhardt. “They helped us meet the challenge of a compressed timeline for delivery to support multiple uses both now and into the future for our client, providing both great sound and an easy-to-use and flexible platform for the audio team at Esports.”

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