Last month, Cloud9 took home $65,000 after beating out seven of the top North American Counter-Strike: Global Offensive teams at the 2015 iBUYPOWER Cup. This two day event took place in Downtown Santa Ana at eSports Arena.
If you aren’t one of the 205 million people who watch or play eSports, that might not have made sense. Cloud9 is an eSport organization consisting of a team of professional video game players. They, along with top North American teams competed in a two day tournament playing Counter- Strike: Global Offensive (also known as CS:GO), a multiplayer first shooter game. And like other competitive sports (there’s still a case of whether eSport is an actual sport, read more about it and make up your own judgment) there’s an audience rooting them on. The video game is projected on giant screens as spectators watch and it’s also available to live steam online at Twitch.
Of course, eSports arenas are not new, especially in Asia, with South Korea having the largest market. However, eSports Arena is North America’s first dedicated eSports facility. The 15,000 square foot facility opened to the public on October 5th, 2015. Tiffany Chiu, Director of Communications, gave us some more insight on this new space.
DTSA: Can you tell us more about eSports and what exactly is eSports Arena?
Tiffany (T): eSports, in a nutshell, is competitive gaming. It is one of the fastest growing industries and the events can range from local weekly tournaments to multi-million dollar world championships. Fans spend many hours watching their favorite professional players and teams play in tournaments and other events! eSports Arena is a place where the gaming community can come together over one shared experience. Everything from viewing parties to large, $100K tournaments and even tabletop meetups have been hosted here. We are also open to the public as a LAN center and offer memberships that grants access to our PCs and consoles, as well as access to certain events.
The idea for eSports Arena was born out of a need for a place where local gamers could come to test their skills and play competitively on a daily basis. Amateur and semi-pro players often do not get a chance to prove themselves because tournaments are far and few between and many of them are invite-only. The eSports Arena team is giving local gamers a chance to come compete on an awesome stage and in front of thousands of viewers at home by providing professionally-run tournaments and a high production value not normally afforded to the amateur scene.
DTSA: What’s your vision for eSports Arena?
T: This is a big question! Our vision for the Arena, first and foremost, is to be one of the most prominent forces behind the rise of eSports. We are growing the scene by hosting all sorts of gaming events and facilitating amateur competitive gaming, which in turn, will also fuel professional growth. One of our big plans is to build a network of local gamers across the continent with the opening of more Arenas. These competitors will be able to game and compete all-year-round, leading to progressively larger tournaments and that will bring forth star professional players and other talent. So far, we have accomplished many interesting things such as hosting successful weekly tournaments as well as creating a major crowdfunded tournament for an up-and-coming game, but we have even bigger, better plans–and it all starts here, in Santa Ana.
DTSA: Can anyone walk in and start playing games? Or is there a membership fee?
T: We have a simple, flat fee of $13/month for our members that also grants access to some events. Alternatively, you can purchase a day pass for $10. Certain events may have their own fee as well and do not require a membership.
DTSA: Why Santa Ana for the first location?
T: Santa Ana was a great place for eSports Arena as a proof-of-concept because of its close proximity to major gaming companies and developers in the Southern California area. In addition to this, Paul and Tyler saw that the historic Ramona building had great potential for a perfect balance between rustic charm and high technology–and they were right.
DTSA: Mind sharing fun facts about the facility? How many PCs are there?
T: Our internet is blazing fast! Lots of people live stream from the Arena which requires very good internet. We also have over 120 PCs and over 64 consoles in the Arena. The computers were custom-built for us by CyberPowerPC. We also have a full, turn-key broadcasting production line and many custom-built assets such as our caster desk and stage pods.
DTSA: Any upcoming events?
T: We have some big plans for 2016, starting off with Heroes Rising, our crowdfunded Heroes of the Storm tournament. We are also hosting a $100K CS:GO tournament with CyperPowerPC and many other tournaments such as a $2K Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 Open. There’s much more planned that haven’t been announced yet as well, but anyone who is interested in our upcoming events can check our Facebook page.