It’s only natural that esports takes cues from traditional sports, building off of established processes and norms while adapting elements to this modern, electronic world. However, esports need not be tethered to traditional methods when there are exciting and innovative new methods and options, which can better represent the dynamic nature of competitive gaming.
One such example is trophies. While many esports tournaments have riffed off of the classic glossy metal cups and saucers seen in traditional sports, we’re seeing a greater push to award more charismatic and original designs — ones that better represent the game in question, the publisher, the sponsor(s), or all of the above.
Belgian company 3D Trophy Factory is one of the companies leading the charge on that front, embracing techniques such as 3D printing and laser cutting to bring fresh designs to life. Formed in 2012, 3D Trophy Factory has worked across a number of industries, creating bespoke trophies for competitions, companies, and employee recognition purposes–but its esports work has significantly ramped up of late.
The company’s work has been seen in a number of high-profile events. One key example is for the most recent ESL Pro League season for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. While previous ESL Pro League seasons featured a more traditional-looking cup design, ESL sought to present a trophy that better aligned with its recent rebranding effort. The result strikes a distinctive silhouette, a swirl of gold and black adorned with the league branding.
Another standout example is for the GLL Grand Slam: PUBG Classic for PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, which spotlights the potential to utilise in-game assets to produce a trophy unlike any other. The large, golden trophy is built in part from actual in-game assets from the battle royale shooter, with four of the familiar soldiers hoisting up a large supply crate. FaZe Clan, for their part, then hoisted the trophy onstage following their decisive win at last summer’s tournament.
“You have more freedom to actually capture the shapes that you see in the game,” asserted 3D Trophy Factory’s Business Development Manager, Zorko Huljic. “This can be captured easily in our trophies thanks to the freedom of design with 3D printing.”
Whether a client already has a vision for a trophy or needs some design guidance, 3D Trophy Factory works closely with tournament organisers to develop a bespoke award. Following an initial briefing, the company produces sketches and renders as the two parties collaborate on a shared vision. Following design approval, Huljic says that it takes between three and four weeks to deliver the final product, depending on the complexity and chosen materials.
“In terms of lead time, by using 3D printing, it’s faster than traditional metal forging or injection molding,” he explained. “Those are some of the benefits we offer in our product, but it’s really custom work. That’s really important.”
In addition to a faster turnaround than traditional methods for large-scale trophies, there’s also potential for cost savings in the process. Additionally, 3D printing is an eco-friendlier, additive process, as it builds up from nothing rather than carving away material — plus unused material can be reused in another run. And materials are made from castor oil, a biological source that can be renewed as fast as it is used. 3D Trophy Factory delivers a level of polish far beyond what hobbyist 3D printers can manage.
“It’s reasonably priced, but it’s a premium product,” said Huljic of the company’s work. “It’s printed with industrial-grade printers with SLS laser sintering technology.”
The distinctive results have also been seen in Riot Games’ League of Legends Premier Tour in Germany, including a trophy with a golden scepter surrounded by flames. 3D Trophy Factory also produced trophies for Ubisoft’s Rainbow Six Siege French League, for Red Bull’s Untapped tournament for Magic: The Gathering, and Game Insights’ Guns of Boom tournaments.
Read the full version of this article in Edition 5 of The Esports Journal.