Why Waterloo Region wants to grow the esports industry locally and experts say others should follow suit
Get ready to learn more about esports in Waterloo Region.
A social media campaign will be launched in March to introduce the community to the industry, which experts say can boost municipalities in a variety of ways.
At the end of 2020, the region announced that it wanted to become a hotspot for esports tournaments. The work to make this happen has been underway during the pandemic, said Allister Scorgie, sports hospitality manager for Explore Waterloo Region.
Scorgie says the Waterloo Region Esports Commission was established in March 2021 to bring local businesses and organizations together to support the local gaming community. The group managed to organize a few virtual esports camps last summer.
In March, however, Scorgie said Explore Waterloo Region hopes to introduce more information and resources to the community about what esports is.
Scorgie said this includes “what an esports gamer’s day looks like, careers in gaming and esports, online safety and wellbeing, and some resources for people around cyberbullying.” .
More and more cities are looking to invest in esports
As more people turn to digital entertainment, especially during the pandemic, investing in esports is becoming a growing trend among municipalities and organizations, said Alex Igelman, lawyer, strategist and founder of Esports Capital Corp in Toronto. His company has worked with cities and venues in Canada and the United States on their esports plans.
“I think cities are finding that as we move to this Web 3.0 in this connected digital world, they have to adapt to this competitive aspect, which has become a very big business,” he said.
Much like when cities invest in sports complexes and rinks to host other types of sports and tournaments, Igelman said municipalities that want to stand out and attract more talent should consider doing the same for esports.
“Remember, it’s not just the audience you’ll get at home. If KW hosts a big tournament, you can potentially attract tens of millions of people, depending on the caliber of that tournament,” said Igelman.
“It’s going to put you in the international spotlight.”
Local post-secondary institutions like Conestoga College, University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University all have teams competing in the Ontario Post-Secondary Esport League. They compete against other players in popular games like League of Legends and Monitoring.
Kristen Bolliger, assistant director of recreation and performance at Conestoga College, said they made the leap into esports during the pandemic to successfully keep sports in school – even if it was digital –.
“It’s really taken off and we’ve been surprised by the interest from community members, students and various college stakeholders to continue this esports adventure,” she said.
Esport a platform for innovation
With the region’s strong tech community and three post-secondary institutions involved in esports leagues, Igelman and other industry experts like Chris Overholt, president and CEO of Toronto-based OverActive Media, say that it makes sense for the Region of Waterloo to view esports as a platform. for innovation and as a way to stay relevant with younger generations.
“This is a generation that thinks differently about its sporting and media choices and a generation that isn’t inclined to sit down and watch three hours of hockey, like I did growing up in Canada, but could be more inclined to watch seven hours of Call of Duty Where Monitoring“, Overholt said.
Overholt and Igelman say esports is an evolving industry that is here to stay with gamers and millions of fans eager to watch across the country and internationally.
“We’ve seen incredible growth in revenue streams and investor money landing in the space,” said Overhold, whose company owns different franchises and esports teams.
“In Canada we know today from our own research that there are 5.7 million declared esports fans in this country and we know by comparison that there are just over 10, 5 million NBA fans. This league is almost 100 years old.”