ESPORTS IS HERE, WHERE DO CLUBS FIT IN?

In March 2017 Terry O’Halloran from Russell Corporate published an article titled ‘eSports in Clubs – are we up for it?’. As he saw it, clubs were in the prime position to use latent resources to host events of varying sizes at times that suited the target market (i.e off-peak) and didn’t upset the key trading periods of Friday and Saturday. He noted that the business proposition was very different to what many tried to compare it to – Poker. In the time since penning that article, he has worked with Bankstown Sports on developing their strategy, watched the local market change, fielded a lot of enquiries from Clubs and watched venues take more than a passing interest. On top of that, he has spent time with people who see what the potential for Clubs is in this area, but we really haven’t progressed much further…..but that’s all be about to change.

So, what has transpired?

The status of eSports in the national sporting psyche is very close to receiving a huge boost that will change the dynamic of the entire field for years to come. The International Olympic Committee is currently considering whether to admit eSports as an event at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo – all signs pointing to this being a very good chance and if not Tokyo, then definitely Paris in 2024. There is more to this decision than meets the eye for many countries, especially ones like Australia with a nascent organised eSports landscape and a very disparate eSports structure. For one, you need a centralised peak body that will invariably have a reporting line to the AOC and the heavy compliance that goes with it. That, of course, begets the funding that goes with it. Peak bodies then need to be backfilled with infrastructure and grassroots development….and that, ladies and gentlemen, is where the charter of Clubs comes to the fore. Grass. Roots. Development. High stakes events with TV coverage and screaming masses were never going to be the Clubs thing, it was always going to be the ‘home’ of smaller stake games and events that have a community appeal and stretches the demographic appeal of the venue.

Terry often gets asked ‘tell me what you know about eSports’ like it can be summed up in 2 minutes or less. His response is invariably ‘are you looking at PC or Console?’ and 4 times out of 5 he will get a blank stare. There are some basics you should look to learn before leaping straight to ‘how much is an event and how much money will I make?’. The short answer to that is, ‘between $1,000 and $50,000’ and ‘nothing to start with’. Like many things in this ever-changing world, the only way to understand it is to get involved in it. Here are his 5 tips to understanding eSports.

  1. Get to know the basics http://www.trustedreviews.com/opinion/what-are-esports-a-beginner-s-guide-to-pro-gaming-2932403
  2. Find someone in your venue who has more than a passing interest in it – odds on you will have multiple
  3. Go to eBay and pick up a console (PS4 or Xbox 1) for less than $300 (2 controllers) and then go to JB Hi-Fi and get a 12-month online access pass for less than $80.
  4. Download ‘Fortnite – ‘Battle Royale’ for free to understand 100 player games, then get ‘Overwatch’ and ‘Counter Strike’ to understand team-based games.
  5. Find a live eSports event and spectate.

New technology is daunting, people under 30 are more daunting. The internet has provided them with the option to NOT go out. They can socialise at home and be part of a team. If we ignore their patronage, that is where they will stay.

If you want more links and ideas on how to get started, email Terry O’Halloran on terry.ohalloran@russellcorporate.com.au and he will get back to you in between rounds of Overwatch.