Indigo League – Behind the Scenes

I’ve brought you updates on the gameplay of Indigo League each week for the last 5 weeks. Now let’s take a look at how Indigo League came to be, what was involved in running it, and what were the highlights of the season.

I spoke with Sosaflo earlier in the year about Friday Night Fights. Now I’m talking to him about how he expanded on the idea of team battles to create a premier esports league.

The Genesis

Inspired by the desire to see the old guard, The Elite Four, battle the new kids in town, Mazer Gaming, Sosaflo set out to build a league around those two teams. The emphasis here is on seeing the battles. We’ve been able to read about matches like this, but Sosa wanted the PvP audience to really be able to see the action on screen.

Elite4 logoMazer Gaming Logo

Thunderlions logoOnce E4 and Mazer were onboard, he had his starting point and had to find other similarly talented teams to fill out the league. Though believing that 8 is the magic number for a league like this, Sosa decided to run with 6. He thought of Thunderlions from Mexico, who were one of the first teams/organizations to put on a worldwide remote cup after in-person battles were paused. He was impressed with how well they ran that tournament and at the level of play their players provided.

PokeBattle Tower logoAfter Thunderlions, he went back to the old guard again and approached Poke Battle Tower, who were the first to put on what we would now call a mega tournament in L.A. It certainly didn’t hurt that Sosa already had a working relationship with this team. Some of them had to be coaxed to come out of retirement, but don’t let that fool you into thinking they weren’t up to the challenge. When 400 people showed up to battle in that mega, and the top of the tournament turned out to be people from the local area, you can’t deny that they have the skills to play in a competitive league.

Cool Cats LogoSo having these 4 teams in place, Indigo League ran a proof of concept tournament. Four teams, two rounds, broadcast over two nights. It was a success! To fill the last two spots in the league, Sosa turned to his league staff for suggestions. Cool Cats were an easy pick. Like PBT, they came together as the result of a mega (Orlando). They are led by Caleb Peng, who has a great reputation for building up the PvP community and being one heck of a Battler. Cool Cats had recently expanded to participate in other team formats, so they had the capacity to participate.

Regicide LogoRegicide PvP was a bit of a wild card, possibly even retired at the time. But remembering the assistance captain JakeDoesHurdles had given TeamRocketPvP in the past, Sosa was happy to round out the league with Regicide.

How the League Works

Sosa dreams of a day when we can have live, in-person events. Big screens, flashing lights, the audience on the edge of their seat type of live events. Unfortunately, that’s not a realistic dream right now, so the league operates remotely. Battles are recorded during the week, videos are uploaded, and the editors work tirelessly to get them turned into content for the stream, sometimes working until 2, 3, or 4 am to get it all done and ready for the weekend. Saturday streams feature 2 games and run for about 3 hours. Sunday streams feature 1 game and run for roughly 90 minutes.

It’s been a process to get it to this level of production. There have been a few hiccups along the way. There was the time Sosa decided to use a new streaming setup, and it freaked out on him. (Sometimes, you just have to stick with the tried and true solutions.) Some Battlers have trouble recording or uploading their battles, so the production team does the best with what they have. There weren’t many times that zero footage of a match was available; notably, one entire game was missing, and both teams both disqualified. Even the cases of Sosa muting himself or others have virtually disappeared. (So much for that drinking game I was trying to establish!)

When talking about expanding the league to include more teams next season, Sosaflo admits that he has to take time zones into consideration. Even though the battles are not shown live on stream, the Battlers still have to find time to have their matches during the week. If people are on completely opposite sides of the world, that presents a real obstacle for many. Most of these Battlers are not full-time PvPers; they have lives and jobs that must come first. Again with the big dreams, Sosa would love to provide content every night of the week featuring teams from different regions of the world. But, again, that’s just not feasible at this time. But, folks, I wouldn’t count this one out – where’s there’s a Sosa, there’s a way.

If teams are interested in joining Indigo League, Sosa recommends that you sign up for Friday Night Fights. That’s a really great way to get some exposure for lesser-known teams and Battlers. It provides the same structure/schedule that you will have to work within the league. It’s also a way to show the skill level of your team. One of the most important things Sosa is looking for is how well teams and Battlers interact with his production team. If there are problems, are they handled professionally? But the truth is that Indigo League can’t feature all the teams who deserve to be included right now. (Sosa talked extensively about all the places he’d like to look for great teams. Reign it in, reign it in.)

The Staff

Behind the scenes, people like JamestheBlasian, FirstOlympian, Ynotboi, and I work to make all this happen. Whether it’s doing graphic design work on promotional materials, editing videos, designing onscreen assets, keeping league stats, managing the website, posting VODs to YouTube, moderating the Twitch chat, you name it, this team supports Sosaflo so that he can be the main league contact to the team captains, manage schedules for onscreen talent, all while being onscreen talent and stream director at the same time. (He also runs FNF and provides content almost every night of the week.)

When putting the league together, Sosa was challenged to find shoutcasters and analysts who would agree to a five-week schedule, including missing Community Days and special events. He needed people for almost 6 hours of content over the weekend. Sosa specifically didn’t want to use people who would be involved in the league as Battlers for the onscreen talent. So he reached out to everyone he knew to find people who were interested and could do it. I met Sosaflo through FirstOlympian, who started the Atlanta Champions League. I am in the GirlsThatPvP server where I posted that Sosa was looking for shoutcasters. We weren’t ready to reveal the full Indigo League project yet, but I got interest from DPhiE250. A quick look at her bona fides led me to believe that she was more than qualified to do this. I hooked her up with Sosa. He tried her out on Friday Night Fights (see, it’s also the proving ground for staff, not just teams), and she was a natural.

Sosa drafted DJEntaprize after watching him on the first Silph Showdown. DJ impressed with his calm demeanor, charisma, and chemistry with the others on that stream. After giving him a chance to work with DphiE, Sosa knew he had a pair that worked well together.

SpiritofBadRNG, who is a regular on my local discord, was a draft from the Atlanta Champion’s League. FirstOlympian enlisted him when he was looking for shoutcasters to work in Atlanta. Spirit was able to commit to working on Sundays.

The amazing NHoff was a last-minute fill-in when another analyst was not available. She came to Sosa’s rescue to provide analysis with no prep but was a total pro, not surprisingly, based on her work with GO Stadium and her extensive battling experience. NHoff then committed to working all 5 weeks.

Like others before him, TenRyxen started on Friday Night Fights and moved over to Indigo League as he was needed.

After reaching out to Thunderlions for a referral, Sosa discovered Jolt19. He started on FNF and then moved to Sundays on Indigo League.

This was Sosa’s core caster/analyst team. He worked around their schedules. He filled in with people like PoGoJoel, BomberLain28, RamblingRabbit, WildSusanBoyle, and others when he had openings.

While it’s really nice to have celebrity casters for their deep knowledge of PvP featured on a special stream like the finals, Sosa believes (and I agree with him) that there’s a lot of value to using the same team of casters and analysts who have seen these teams and Battlers play 5 weeks in a row. They know the Battlers and can provide insight and backstory to various match-ups that provide more color than someone who hasn’t been involved could. We have a family here in the Indigo League, and no one is going to break us up.

Season Highlights

I asked Sosaflo to give me 3 examples of the most memorable/best battles from the season. I thought his head was going to explode trying to narrow his choices down to just 3, but here’s what he came up with:

  • Week 3, Juanchopolis’ Gengar Focus Blasts CalebPeng’s Bastiodon. Hands down, this has to be the play of the season. These are the kinds of plays you can’t (or are unlikely to) sim.
  • Week 5, Auburnnnn flipped the match to get the win against Reis2Occasion, making an amazing swap in of an almost dead Lickitung with a Body Slam loaded against a Driflblim.
  • Week 3, again Juanchopolis against CalebPeng, 3rd battle. Juan’s Swampert was up against Caleb’s Venusaur with all shields down on both sides. Juan tried to sac swap in an almost dead Wobb, but Caleb didn’t throw and took it out with fast moves. When the Swampert came back in, Juan won CMP to fire off an Earthquake to one-shot a full health, absolutely loaded Venusaur, and then got to a Hydro Cannon to also take out Caleb’s Mew. This series of plays brought the shout to shoutcasting.

Looking back at what made this season special, Sosa talked about things like:

  • Joeybrahhh playing Santachu
  • Thunderlions never having their original lineup and depending heavily on subs.
  • Dreflames looooooves his Primeape!
  • With the exception of Caleb, the members of Cool Cats actually own dogs
  • Don’t mess with Auburnnnn
  • If you ever want to proc an Obstagoon, play against Gucci!

I agree that these were all part of the appeal of Indigo League. I look forward to what Season 2 will bring. Stay tuned! (Can you “tune in” to Twitch?)

Check out the Indigo League website to get even more details!

Where and When to Watch the Battles

All the Indigo League games are available on TeamRocketAcademy’s YouTube channel. Give them a couple of days to post the finals, but it will be there as soon as possible. You can also find highlights at the Indigo League website.

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"Gatherer of facts." I love knowing stuff. I love redistributing that knowledge.

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