CITILINK Esports Academy: a thrilling show finale

Moscow, December 27, 2017: A reality show, the first of its kind in esports history, which was organized by CITILINK and Intel with active support from the RuHub studio, has ended in a victory for team SKILL and the winner being presented with a check for 1,000,000 rubles.

Over 9 weeks, the project discovered talented amateur players of Dota 2, the most popular esports discipline, while delivering highly entertaining episodes. After 376 matches played by 414 registered teams from every corner of Russia, four out of the eight qualifier winners were selected by experts to be enrolled in the CITILINK Esports Academy. The participants made a journey from simple amateurs to professionals. Help in setting up the right practice schedule, preparing mentally for key matches, and resolving any conflicts arising within the teams, was provided by the project’s star mentors, Yaroslav “NS” Kuznetsov, Vitaly “v1lat” Volochai, Viktor “GodHunt” Volkov, and Dmitry “LighTofHeaveN” Kupriyanov.

New episodes of the show were released on RuHub’s YouTube channel every Sunday. RuHub staff provided full technical support for the project, quality production of the episodes, and an online livestream of the final game with participation from esports analysts.

The spectacular grand final was held at a packed Yota Arena. Approximately 300,000 viewers watched the project’s decisive battle online, while the ninth and final episode of the reality show garnered about 130,000 views. The project met with great interest from novices and professionals in various esports disciplines as well as the media. Indeed, it was unique in bringing together Dota 2 amateurs and the game’s stars.

CITILINK Esports Academy was RuHub’s first large-scale project that was not related to broadcasting activities, while still related to esports. The nine episodes of the debut season of Russia’s historically first esports reality show, released over a period of less than three months, were viewed 3 million times in total on YouTube.

The final match was played at Yota Arena between the two strongest teams in the project, STGP and SKILL. The teams’ respective mentors had been Viktor “GodHunt” Volkov and Dmitry “LighTofHeaveN” Kupriyanov. The prize was a check for 1,000,000 rubles ($17,300). In an intense best-of-5 (first to three wins) match, SKILL emerged as the winner after turning the series around and defeating their rival 3-1. General Manager Roman Dvoryankin presented the winners with their prize check on the Yota Arena stage. In his congratulatory speech, he noted that in the near future,’s Dota 2 roster will play a practice match against the tournament winner, an opportunity for the fledgling professionals to test their skills against one of the best teams in the world.

Vitaly “v1lat” Volochai, commentator, RuHub:

“I was surprised and gladdened by how many people became interested in the project, followed it and rooted for the various teams and specific players. In the end, we got a very good product that had found its viewer. Since we were prioritizing showmanship over the gameplay component, people who were unfamiliar with Dota found the episodes interesting too.”

Alexey Tsidilin, project lead, CITILINK Esports Academy:

“We were certainly taking a risk when we launched the project: the new show format and the extremely specific Dota community were new territory for CITILINK, with which the brand had not had such close contact before. No-one could confidently predict how the show would be received by audiences. But we here at the company and our partners at Intel and RuHub believed we’d succeed together. Now that the project has ended, we can already say it was a success. Yes, we met our audience reach goals, our sales growth dynamics goals, but that is not what matters. What matters is exactly how the audience received our product: the thousands of comments and discussions on third-party forums and social media, the videos reviewing what was happening on the show. We made it resonate, and that was the show’s key success. I’ll tell you a secret, we’ve already started preparations for a second season of the Academy, and we’ll try to make the project even more interesting and entertaining. See you next year!”

Tatyana Shavrova, CEO, RuHub:

“We are very proud of the results of the project and the keen interest we were able to elicit from our viewrs. Without fail, each episode of the show garnered tens and then hundreds of thousands of views, and on the day of the grand final, Yota Arena was completely packed, despite it being a weekday. In the slightly over two months of shooting, we vividly demonstrated our ability to show audiences how esports is made, and do it in creative ways, from different angles, but always with quality. At this point, we can confidently say we’ve pioneered esports reality shows of this scale and production level.”