Esports is a fast-growing industry that continues to shock people unfamiliar with it by showing the money and popularity behind it. Raleigh was able to be a part of that growth this weekend when it hosted the ESL Six Raleigh Major 2019 based in the game Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege at the Raleigh Convention Center.
16 of the best teams and players in the world traveled to North Carolina to compete in the first-person tactical shooter game for a $500,000 prize pool with $200,000 going to the first-place team. Online viewership peaked at 268,650 viewers and the tournament sold out the convention center.
“Holding events on the east coast at different parts of the country has been great to bring out tons more [North American] players and fans that can't afford to fly out to more exotic locations,” said Devin ‘Mzo’ Becker, a professional Rainbow 6 Siege Commentator. “Definitely felt like a lot of especially local fans really had a great time and brought their own unique vibe.”
Che Chou, senior director of esports at Ubisoft, the company that developed the game, told The Esports Observer that Ubisoft’s goal was to spread fanfare around the country. The last major event in the United States was in Las Vegas so the company wanted to do something on the East Coast and since Ubisoft has a studio in Cary, Raleigh was a perfect location.
According to the Esports Observer’s article, Raleigh was also very aggressive in trying to convince decision-makers to host the event there. With the rise of entrepreneurship in Raleigh, the success of the Rainbow 6 Siege Major and the game companies located in the area, the city could be a frontrunner for more upcoming esports events.
“Esports is still slowly working its way out of the growing phase where we are hopefully having to explain what it is and why it's important less and less,” Mzo said. “Some of the differences between esports and traditional sports seem to trip people up, but having local physical events does more to help people understand it by getting to be there.”
The industry is still in its infancy, showing how massive this new generation of sports can be across the entire world. Every day, it seems like more people ask ‘How is playing video games a job?’ and the younger generation is now in charge of explaining how big the industry actually is.
“It also encourages kids and parents to attend together and grow it in the way a sport like baseball can grow in that relationship and shared experience,” Mzo said. “With that excitement and spectacle of the event at a local level, it does a great job of piquing the curiosity of local and eventually mainstream media.”
The final series fought between two of the best teams in the world: Team Empire and G2 Esports with Team Empire coming out on top and winning $200,000. Rainbow 6 Siege is just the surface of esports with many other game titles giving away enormous amounts of money every year.
Esports has exploded into mainstream media in the last year because of the rise of Epic Games’ Battle Royale game ‘Fortnite’, but the benefits have come to all game titles as the industry becomes more popular with fans, competitors and sponsors.