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Waterloo Region tourism group look to bring esports to area

No longer the purview of kids wiling away the hours in their basement, video games are not just big business but a competitive platform that has spawned so-called electronic sports, or esports. 

For many years now esports have been rising in popularity the world over, as those now dubbed professional gamers have been able to showcase their skills playing many of the biggest games. Some of these gamers have not only been able to become famous doing the thing they love, they have also been able to rake in large sums of prize money and stick it to the parents who said they were wasting their time playing games.

Major cities such as Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver have all embraced esports, hosting teams, tournaments and other events related to the industry. Waterloo Region is next to take the plunge into esports, partnering with Subnation, a media and marketing platform dedicated to the field. The region is now looking into whether or not it would be viable to bring the gaming phenomenon closer to home

Allister Scorgie, director of sport hosting with Explore Waterloo Region, says after looking into sporting ideas for the region, esports was the one of the ideas that stuck and they’re now seeing if starting events and teams in the region would work.

“One of the few of the early conversations that we had had around sport in Waterloo Region was how to utilize and leverage our strengths, particularly as a tech sector and a hub for tech companies in the sport field. There were lots of ideas that got tossed out, but one of them that kind of stuck was the whole esports market and whether or not that was something worth exploring – what the possibilities were – [and] if it made sense for Waterloo Region,” said Scorgie. “We found ourselves in a position where we were able to redirect some of our attention and our energy away from what we thought were going to be our projects this year. Sporting events hosting, national soccer championships [were all cancelled], everything that got put on pause on that front. So, when we found ourselves as a little more time available, we thought maybe this is the right time to pursue esports and take a stronger look at it.”

Currently they are in the process of seeing whether or not to pursue something like this for the region. Scorgie says this should hopefully wrap up by 2021 and then they will have a better picture of what a potential esports system may look like in the region.

He says because the universities and college in Waterloo have already jumped into the esports world by creating their own teams, or hosting events, it’s a very organic thing for them to see if moving into region-wide events would be something of value.

If this does move ahead Scorgie says areas like Woolwich and Wellesley will not only be looked at for potential venues to host these types of tournaments, but players from the region may also have the chance to participate depending on how things move forward. He says nothing is off the table and that there could be a Waterloo Region team made up of players from around the area.

More information will be released as the Subnation partnership continues to explore the possibilities.

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