Heavy Metal and Gaming – the perfect combo?

The world’s largest gathering for heavy metal music takes place every year in Wacken in Germany. The event draws visitors from all around the world and it’s pretty much the biggest event that happens in the small town year-round. It’s popular with music fans of all ages and backgrounds and it’s about to change in a very interesting way. There is no doubt that there’s a lot of overlap between between heavy metal fans and gamers…even so, it’s certainly an unusual move that the Wacken Open Air festival is adding something new to its line-up.

More specifically, the festival is joining forces with the Electronic Sports League (ESL) to create the ESL Arena that is going to be added to the festival itself. This makes it the first music festival to do this. The new ESL Arena will open on the 1st of August.

It will span a pretty impressive 1.800 square metres (the arena, not the whole festival) and be open to festival-goers, in order to let them compete in short daily tournaments of popular games. These include League of Legends and PUBG, but also many others. It wouldn’t be much of a music festival though if that was all – there will also be exhibition matches from bands, pro players and artists.


Oh and these matches are going to take place to the backdrop of heavy metal music, because why wouldn’t they? The entire festival itself takes place on nearly 600 acres of land, meaning that the gaming stage is but a tiny blip on the map here.

While the Wacken festival is the first to achieve this kind of esports integration, it isn’t the only music event that is getting involved with esports. Just this week, Universal Music Canada announced its new deal with Luminosity Gaming, one of the world’s biggest esports organisations. The deal will let both parties use each other’s platforms. This will mean sharing music, events, contests, and even previews for new content and games.

Last year, Universal Music Group partnered with the UK’s Insomnia Gaming Festival – a similar, mutually beneficial deal for the two parties. In the meantime, ICS, the promoters behind the always-sold-out Wacken say that they are trying to take advantage of the world’s rising popularity of esports.

ICS CEO Holger Hübner, comments: “Like many games, heavy metal creates fantasy worlds. [We are] proud to be pioneering the world’s first esports theme experience at a music festival, so we are very glad to have ESL as a most capable partner that is setting the international standard in esports.”

On the side of the ESL, this is far from the first or biggest partnership they’ve made – among other things, they are also partnered with French media conglomerate Vivendi and even promotions giant AEG – in other words, the ESL is making great inroads in partnering with music and media companies. The ESL itself also claims to have reached more than 400 million viewers through live events last year – that’s a pretty solid number!