Why These Cities Will Be Hosting Major Esports Tournaments In The Years Ahead
There’s a lot of money in eSports, both for players good enough to get into the major tournaments and for experienced tournament organizers. That hasn’t been lost on many other interested parties, and it’s likely we’ll see competition over the next few years between major global cities looking to host the big contests.
With the amount of cash involved those might be on a regional or national level but still fall into the classification of ‘big’ international events.
Of course it’s not just cold hard cash that’s the attraction although obviously that plays a major part. Those cities intent on social or cultural development will see this as a way to encourage and build improved local relationships with the younger generations or attract visitors, while the attraction of being seen as engaged fully with future innovations will also raise the status with investors, residents, and potential new businesses.
It’s probably fair to say that most every day players looking to win cash at games of skill – of which competitive video gaming is a perfect example – will need to be content with involvement in smaller online video game competitions – at least as players – but it’s a sure bet that if we want to spectate at a major event and see the pros in action we’re going to need to know which venues those events are held in.
On this page we’ll look at some of the world cities that are beginning to position themselves as global eSports hubs.
It’s not surprising to see China making a bid to become the home of eSports tournaments, and Shanghai may be the city to make that happen. The Chinese city already has the distinction of hosting the “League of Legends” World Championship of 2020, one of the biggest events in the e-sports contests calendar.
Work has begun on building a near $900 million arena, and the ground has already been broken to accommodate what will be known as the Shanghai International New Cultural and Creative E-sports Center. Not just an arena, this is intended to be an eSports hub, with the complex designed to attract the big teams and companies in a hospitality-focused environment that includes its own hotel.
When complete the center will be able to house around 6,000 spectators who will have options to stay in a five-star eSports-themed hotel and visit an attached gaming museum.
Chinese gamers are estimated to number over 700 million, with over two thirds of that number playing competitive video games. It may be 2023 at the earliest before the building is complete, but there’s every chance it will achieve the desired global status giving those local gamers a world class venue to be proud of.
One of Chicago’s leading real estate figures – Scott D. Greenberg – has already been responsible for the build of major Chicago hospitality landmarks such as the Hotel EMC2 and theWIT Hotel. He is now turning attention to the eSports industry with a plan to build a venue known as Surge.
This $30 million project – complete with an outdoor 35 feet by 85 feet IMAX screen – is planned to deliver Chicago residents and visiting teams or spectators a stunning large scale arena which will also position itself as a virtual reality gaming destination.
As long as the project gets the go ahead from planning commission officers, it will be located at the downtown address of 2500 S Wabash Ave, replacing an existing derelict property. Completion could reportedly be achieved by the summer of 2022.
The virtual reality element of the project will be delivered in partnership with MassVR.
With the IMAX screen clearly likely to be a major attraction for spectating fans who could number up to 800, and the arenas close proximity to Illinois Tech also likely to gain the interest of students enrolled in esports programs there, the new tournament venue has vast potential for success and to become a prime US eSports hub.
Other Planned Venues
With global interest in esports unsurprisingly showing no signs of abating – it’s even been announced as an official medal sport at the 2022 Asian Games in China – it’s a certainty that new developments worldwide won’t end here. On this page we’ll be bringing news of new arena complexes as they’re announced.
New cities or major regions under development in general may be of particular interest, since they’re likely to see eSports as a desirable attraction both to bring in visitors, residents, and businesses. All of which are needed for a region to have any real chance of financial prosperity.
But what about the cities already in the game, and those that aren’t yet but will be?
Esports has been growing for a number of years, and major city tournaments have already taken place. It’s a fair bet that even those major cities which haven’t yet will already have completed investigations and maybe discussions with industry names about how they might get involved.
Of these it’s more likely to be across Asia where the biggest opportunities lie, but European and North American cities will be keen to have an engagement too. Africa, Australasia, and South America will follow no doubt. It’s likely that within less than 5 years many major cities in all of these regions will have hosted at least one event, and probably many more for some.
There’s surely the prospect that many gaming orientated fans will be deciding on holiday destinations not only on the night life or sea and sunshine, but on where the big tournaments are.
Let’s take a tour of those cities which have already hosted major tournaments, and look all set to host more in the coming years.
The League of Legends 2020 World Championship schedule was hit by COVID-19 restrictions, and ended up being limited to just one event. Plans for 2021 include the prospect of finals in the city of Shenzhen.
Of course that firmly places Shenzhen on the tournament map provided the 2021 events can be completed, and even if they don’t we can expect the Chinese city to host more finals in the years ahead.
Who would have thought that an old mining town in one of the less fashionable European cities would lay claim to being one of the eSports tournament leaders? Well that’s what’s happened to Katowice in Poland.
The Spodek Arena is the venue which put Katowice on the tournament map. Now nearing 30 years old and previously used to host concerts, conventions, and hockey matches, the arena moved into hosting international level eSports contests and has not looked back.
It’s now known as the venue that hosts the Intel Extreme Masters (IEM) Katowice, widely seen as one of the most important Counter-Strike tournaments in the world.
The $1 million prize pool on offer attracts worldwide teams during February each year, and brings in spectator numbers of over 170,000. That’s generating a lot of extra ash for the city and is a perfect illustration of why hosting these types of game tournaments offers substantial local value.
When the eSports phenomenon kicked off it was only a matter of time before a whole town was dedicated to the sport. Hangzhou in China holds the distinction of being the first to build it’s own eSports town.
Opened in late 2018, this covers an area of close to 4 million square feet and reportedly cost approximately ¥2B RMB (£226 million).
Two big names in the sport – Allied Esports and LGD Gaming – were quick off the mark to open local offices, signifying the industry recognition that these types of developments have a major position on the competitive gaming map.
Hangzhou will host the 2022 Asian Games, where eSports has been announced as one of the medal sports for the first time.
As we’ve seen with Hanzhou, the Asian Games will include eSports as a medal sport from 2022. That’s great news for Doha who were announced in 2020 as the hosts for the 2030 renewal, having already hosted the competition in 2006 – an award that cements Doha’s position as a capital city that’s well placed to host major international events.
No surprise then that eSports is already on the list of sports that Qatar is targeting.
In 2017 the Doha authorities announced the impending development of Virtuocity, a gaming focused 3500 square metres state-of-the-art hub for the region.
The complex is now live and offers gamers a whole range of options from team memberships through to escape rooms. racing simulators, gaming arcade, VIP rooms, and of course tournaments which are held in a huge gaming arena in the center of the park. Tournaments and competitions are live-streamed via a dedicated in-house broadcasting system.
The venue looks sure to host a major tournament before long, since Doha is already on the international gaming map with the announcement of the Aspire Wega World Cup – the first multi-game eSports World Cup tournament ever in the Middle East.
This event was created by an alliance between Aspire Zone and payment systems operator WEGA with the intent of holding with online and offline qualifying rounds worldwide and culminating in a live final competition in Doha in 2022 just prior to the FIFA Football World Cup finals.
Intended to be open to anyone to enter, games were to include CSGO, DOTA2, Street Fighter V, and eFootball PES series – with four major milestones including the Grand Ceremony DOHA at Khalifa International Stadium on the 16th of January 2020 (see video below), the WEGA Champions™ on March 2020, followed by a worldwide online competition starting September 2020, the QATAR Esports WEGA Global Games™, and the Global Games Great Final™ December 2020.
Sadly I can’t find any news on the later events, and it’s possible that the COVID-19 pandemic had an impact. But the series does mark Doha’s intent to become a city that’s naturally associated with prestigious gaming tournaments and the years ahead are likely to prove it.
Cologne is the home of the ESL One tournament, a massive global event that brings together the world’s best teams in two different esports, Counter-Strike and Dota 2.
This huge series of contests has actually incorporated individual events in Birmingham UK, Los Angeles, Mumbai, Hamburg, Katowice, and Genting in the past, plus a whole bunch of qualifying contests held online.
The 2021 series of contests are planned for Katowice, Cologne, Melbourne, Valetta Malta, and others (lockdowns and travel restrictions permitting).
Other Major Cities to Have Hosted International Level Tournaments
We’ve only seen a handful of the cities running big eSports events – and likely to host more in future – so far and there are plenty more, including:
- Seattle, USA which has hosted the International DOTA2 championships
- Las Vegas, USA which hosted the Halo World Championship
- Paris, London, Berlin, Brussels have all hosted major international League of Legends competitions
- Atlanta, USA which hosted the Smite World Championship Finals
- Frankfurt, Germany which hosted the Electronic Sports League Tournament
It’s easy to see from a glance through our list that we have some well known – and not so well known – cities that have either already hosted, are hosting, or plan to host major tournaments in the years ahead.
It’s nowhere near an exhaustive list, there are plenty more that will announce plans in future, and new venues are under construction like this one in Philadelphia, USA which (when completed) seems certain to be battling with other major arenas to host the bigger events.
All of which just serves to illustrate even further something we already knew – eSports is here to stay for sure.