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eSports arenas to be launched in Hoyts cinemas

eSports arenas to be launched in Hoyts cinemas
February 5, 2018

The ongoing growth of eSports as an entertainment phenomena is to see the launch of Australia's first city-based professional eSports league staged in Hoyts cinemas.

Announced today, a partnership between Gfinity ESports Australia and Hoyts will see dedicated eSports arenas built inside existing Hoyts cinema locations to host Gfinity Australia’s multisport eSports league.

The first of these will be held in the Hoyts complex in Sydney’s Moore Park Entertainment Quarter, which will host the entire first season of the event, while future editions of the Gfinity’s Elite Series will be expanded around the country.

Scheduled to launch in April with a 2018 prize pool of $450,000, the seven week series will see teams compete in autoball game Rocket League, fighting game Street Fighter V, and team-based first person shooter Counter Strike: Global Offensive.

The league will have city-based franchises, with players able to show their skills in the amateur Challenge Series on route to a direct pathway to the Elite Series.

The Moore Park arena will feature state of the art gaming equipment as well as full broadcast and production capabilities while Hoyts cinemas across the country will be able to present the tournaments.

Announcing the partnership, Dominic Remond, incoming Chief Executive of Gfinity Esports Australia, who is concluding his term as general manager of the Sydney Sixers Big Bash League team, stated "we are excited that our inaugural Gfinity Elite Series will be the first event to be staged at the new arena.

"We've done a lot of work with our parent company in the UK working on exactly what the fitout looks like. It'll be a state-of-the-art experience for fans to come and watch and also for streaming and live broadcast."

While eSports arenas and live stadium events have been taking off around the world, the Australian market has been slower to make the leap due to a smaller market size and a difficult competitive gaming landscape due to inconsistent internet infrastructure.

Despite this Blizzard Entertainment's Overwatch, Riot Games' League of Legends, and an Intel Extreme Masters tournament have all held successful live audience events in large Australian theatres and arenas in the past year.

Australian cinemas are already aware of the potential of live eSports with Event Cinemas and Hoyts having held ticketed live viewing events for major local and international eSports tournaments.

Scott Russell, General Manager of Corporate Solutions at Hoyts, added "(staging) viewing parties opened the door for us to get across eSport in more detail and gave us the confidence to do something more and we really want to establish ourselves as the cinema associated with eSports.

"eSport is moving to a much more community, fan-based feel and away from the old idea of kids at home playing at a desk in the bedroom. Cinema going is a social activity so eSports and the way that it's headed just works perfectly in that sense."

Longer-term, the planned partnership extends to building a chain of eSports arenas around Australia at Hoyts locations around the country. Gfinity Australia aims to create a league, with teams representing different cities around the country.

Remond concluded “we know how sports work in Australia

"It is all about that passion and rivalry between clubs so we think that's going to add a new dimension to the whole eSports field in Australia."

Currently most Australian LAN events are held in smaller locations such as ESL’s Sydney studio in Auburn and the CyberGamer studio in Adelaide.

Last week, Football Federation Australia launched its E-League while the AFL has been considering staging eSports events at Melbourne’s Etihad Stadium.

Images: Gfinity and Hoyts are partnering to create a chain of eSports arenas (top) and an event at Gfinity's eSports Arena in London (below)

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