Entertainment festivals are always going to be a huge event regardless of where they’re held. Music and film festivals are particularly grand events, bringing along a fun and frenzied atmosphere even if only for a weekend. And along with such events, esports festivals are also slowly gaining traction.

Video games have always been popular. Many (if not all) of us have some memories that revolve around taking turns on the PlayStation or Nintendo GameCube. Computer games have blown this industry wide open, with games like League of Legends offering multiplayer gameplay to users from all across the globe.

What’s the deal with esports?

Esports refers to video games that are played on a professional level, usually for big prizes. The very first esports tournament was held at Stamford University all the way back in 1972, with competitors playing Spacewar in the hopes of winning a Rolling Stone subscription.

One of the biggest benefits of esports is that it debunks the stereotype of the solitary, isolated gamer. The gaming community is huge and diverse, with people forging friendships across borders. Indeed, gaming websites use online platforms to post news updates and share stories about their members. For instance, streaming giant Twitch uses their Instagram page to post about community meet-ups, conferences, and team spotlights. This is a good way to ensure it finds the right audience and brings like-minded people together. Thus, esports tournaments are also borne out of a desire to meet your virtual friends in person, allowing people to physically bond over the shared love for a game.

Tournament versus festival

Tournaments typically revolve around a specific game. An esports tournament brings the best teams from all across the world to compete for the championship, often with lucrative prize money. Festivals take the tournament spirit up a notch. Our post on Could More Sports Festivals Be in the Our Future? outlines the different activities that sports festivals have, going beyond just watching your favourite team play. Esports festivals are the same, offering cosplay events and gaming stations alongside hosting matches.

Esports tournaments and festivals across the world

Asia is currently the hub of esports festivals, with Hong Kong’s 2019 E-Sports & Music Festival recently wrapping up just a few months ago. The weekend festivities included a mobile party game zone and the League of Legends College Cup, culminating in an EDM party. Dubai is also shaping the esports industry, with the world finals of the Girl Gamer Esports Festival slated to be held in the city this December.

In many ways esports tournaments have followed the template of international poker tournaments by creating a large global community and then bringing them together for highly publicised events. Together both industries have conquered their respective gaming markets with research showing that esports had an audience of over 380 million in 2018, while the number of poker tables increased between 2018 and 2019. For comparison, PPPoker, with its vast online community of poker players, regularly organises prestigious competitions that bring together its numerous players from across the globe. Cardplayer details how PPPoker will start 2020 in London after putting on several successful tournaments in 2019. Incidentally, London will also host the Neosurf Cup 2020, which is one the first big esports tournaments of the calendar. Both industries show how truly global they have become. For esports this has led to more fans investing in festivals and the social aspect of the industry.

Like festivals, video games have always been great at bringing people together. The marriage of both has led to an exciting union for many across the world, which means we might be seeing more esports festivals in the years to come.