Sunday, November 10 was a big day in the world of sports. Thousands of fans poured into seats and cheered for their favorite players. The catch is, the biggest and most watched event of the day wasn’t the NFL or any “normal” sport as the public would deem it, but rather the 2019 League of Legends World Championship Final in Paris that filled up the approximately over 15,000 seat AccorHotels Arena.
And soon, the biggest movement in sports will make a new home in the mid-south, with the announcement earlier in November that Esports Arena would partner with Walmart to create a place for esports tournaments and events in Nashville. Esports Arena, founded in 2015, is as its title implies. The company has multiple affiliated venues throughout the country and hosts tournaments for many different titles from Activision-Blizzard’s ‘Hearthstone’ to the ever-popular Epic Games shooter ‘Fortnite’.
The company aims to build a growing community of players as well as welcome newcomers to join in and experience why millions worldwide decide to sit and watch gamers duke it out instead of picking up the sticks themselves. Although with a tournament featuring a different game almost every day and the generally low buy-in to enter a tournament, anyone who wants can enter and compete with people from around the local area providing an opportunity to make new friends and rivals.
The announcement on Twitter quickly generated excitement from the Middle Tennessee gaming community on social media, despite the generally smaller number of active competitors as compared to California where the company has several full-blown arenas already built to cater to the scene. While the Kansas City and Nashville sites will be inside Walmart stores, it marks the first notable investment in Tennessee for competitive gaming.
“These smaller Esports Arenas opening inside Walmart stores allows us to expand rapidly, providing the competitive gaming experience to as many gamers as possible,” the company announced in a press release on its website.
Nashville has hosted some notable esports tournaments in the past such as UMG Nashville in 2014 (Call of Duty: Ghosts) and a few Major League Gaming Halo tournaments in 2005 and 2010.
Esports have become a hot topic in the mainstream media in the past few years especially due to the large prize pools given to winners such as Valve’s annual DOTA 2 tournament “The International” which had a $34 million-dollar pool and awarded $15 million to its first place winner. Fortnite also made waves with its 16-year old solo winner Kyle “Bugha” Giersdorf taking home $3 million in prize money at the Fortnite World Cup held in Arthur Ashe Arena in New York City this summer.
Multiple large sports organizations and companies in North America have invested hundreds of millions into their own esports teams such as the Golden State Warriors, Dallas Cowboys, and even Comcast. Comcast especially has sunk a large investment with the announcement of a fully-fledged $50 million venue in Philadelphia to host their Overwatch League team starting in 2021.
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