Esports in Australia is growing quickly, and regardless of your personal interest, it’s going to be very big in a few years. My advice would be to jump on board while you can. In the spirit of that comment, I’m looking to increase my esports coverage – starting now!
Gfinity’s Elite Series event is starting very soon – this weekend, in fact. It will play out over three very different games, across consecutive weekends in June and most of July, and fans can attend live, or spectate over Twitch. If you have any interest at all in esports, I’d recommend you take a look – I’ve addressed all the questions that you might have in the article that follows.
What are esports?
Great question! Think about how, as kids, you may have liked to play basketball or football for fun – or you may even have played for a team. Then consider that some very skilled individuals could go on to become professional basketball or football players. In much the same way, anybody can play video games at home for fun. Some may even play on a regular basis and get quite skilled. Extremely skilled individuals can now showcase those skills as part of a team – in front of fans… for fame, popularity, and cash prizes. This is esports. Keep in mind that the average gamer today is in their 30s, and this will make more sense – in fact, as esports becomes more accepted within the community at large, it’s popularity will only increase.
Who or what is Gfinity?
Gfinity is a UK-based esports company, who announced the expansion of their tournament to Australia in August 2017. Locally, Gfinity holds two events – the Challenger Series, where anybody can participate, and the Elite Series, an event held more for professional teams (the upcoming event is the first season of the Elite Series in Australia). Gfinity announced a partnership with Hoyts earlier this year – the result of this being that Hoyts would create esports arenas within cinemas around Australia to host these live events. The first of these is in Sydney (more details below).
When and where is this happening?
The initial league play is being held starting his weekend, June 2nd and 3rd, and will continue every weekend until July. Following these initial placement matches, the playoffs will be held on July 7th and 8th, with the finals being held on the 14th and 15th. See the following breakdown for reference, as different games will be held on different days/times.
These matches will be played live on stage at Hoyts LUX in the Entertainment Quarter in Sydney.
What games are being played?
The Elite Series covers three popular video games – Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (aka CS:GO), Rocket League, and Street Fighter 5.
CS:GO is a first-person shooter in which teams assume the role of either terrorist or counter-terrorist. In competition, one team is assigned the task of planting and detonating a bomb, while the other needs to disarm the bomb if planted. The only other way to win is for one team to wipe out the other. Teams play one side for 10 rounds and then switch sides. The winner is declared as the first team to reach 11 rounds. Initial League Play will pitch teams against each other as a best of one round (i.e., whoever wins one round is declared the winner), while the playoffs are best of three, and the final is a best of five rounds.
Rocket League was a sensation on release. On paper, it doesn’t seem to make sense. It’s basically a 3v3 soccer game, except instead of people kicking around a little soccer ball, players drive a car around a field controlling a very large soccer ball. There are boosts involved, and the cars are fast and highly maneuverable, so skilled players can pull off some rather fantastic moves, but as a fun pastime AND a competitive sport, it just works. In the League matches, Rocket League will be played as a best of five matches, while playoffs and finals will be best of seven.
Street Fighter 5
If you’ve never heard of the Street Fighter series, I’m kind of interested to understand why you’re reading this right now! Street Fighter 2 was a phenomenon in its heyday – the first real local, real-time competitive arcade game, that just happened to play out as a one-on-one fighting game with impressive super abilities. On top of this, the game has always had complex counters, cancels, parries, and other more subtle moves that skilled players can control like their own body. For you, it may be button mashing, but for them, it’s a state of mind. Street Fighter 5 is the latest in the series, and it’s just as popular as ever. All rounds will be played as best of 7, but to be honest, I’m unsure how this will work in a team environment, so I’m interested to discover this for myself.
Who are the teams?
There will be 6 teams in this initial series, each representing a different city within Australia (although not all cities are represented, and some have more than one team representing):
- Melbourne Order
- Sydney Chiefs
- Brisbane Deceptors
- Perth Ground Zero
- Melbourne Avant Gaming
- Sydney Roar
I don’t really know any of the players (yet!), but I’ll be cheering for Melbourne Order. Information regarding players, etc., can be found at the Gfinity Clubs page.
What is the prize pool?
The 6 teams will be playing for a total prize pool of $450,000, which is a great pool for a tournament in Australia. Exactly how this will be split between games and winning tiers is unknown at this stage, but there will also be trophies and Internet fame to chase down. Assuming the split is $150,000 per game, with a 75/50/25 split across the top three teams, that’s not too shabby, particularly for the winning team. There are, of course, likely internal policies around how that prize money gets split between the team, the coach(es) and the players, but that’s a different topic altogether.
How can I participate?
If you live in Sydney, you can buy tickets now to go watch live! If I was there, I’d definitely be interested – tickets are only $20 per event (one event being a single game on a single day), but I’m unsure how this may change with regards to the playoffs and finals. Note that CS:GO matches are MA15+ restricted, and SFV matches are M rated, but Rocket League allows for general admission. Click here for more info on ticketing.
If you’re not in Sydney, or you otherwise are unable to make it in person, Gfinity has partnered with Twitch, and the matches will be streamed live exclusively on that platform during the times that the events are running. If you’ve not watched an esports event before, note that these are very much like sports matches you have no doubt already watched, with announcers (“shoutcasters” in esports terms) and professional video editing. It’s a whole lot of fun and I recommend you give it the time. Point your browser/TV/PS4/Xbox/whatever to twitch.tv/gfinityau at the times outlined above, and join in the fun and festivities (and chat craziness, I’m sure)!
For more information, be sure to check out the Gfinity Elite Series Australia website.