Washington DC’s bid to become an esports hotspot

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Published on: 07/11/2018

Washington DC might be better known for being the US government’s seat of power, but the capital city has made impressive steps to take advantage of the competitive gaming phenomenon. With a brand new esports stadium, the high-profile purchase of an Overwatch franchise, and many other significant moves, it’s hoped that Washington DC could become a focal point for competitive gaming in North America.

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© Riot Games

Much of the attention has fallen on the Entertainment and Sports Arena in the Southeast area of the city, and this is part of Events DC’s bid to make esports a central part of Washington DC’s future. But some of the city’s most high-profile entrepreneurs like Mark Ein have also shaken up the esports world by making huge investments to set up Washington DC’s first professional Overwatch team. So does Washington DC have what it takes to take on other global esports superpowers like Seoul and Stockholm?

How is Washington DC catering to esports fans?

Whilst many traditional sporting bodies have shown a large amount of scepticism towards the competitive gaming phenomenon, it seems as though Washington DC’s sports authority is taking a different approach. This is because Events DC have made a dedicated effort to sponsor esports events within the city and beyond. It has been suggested that the city’s convention and sports authority will be spending around $1 million in promoting competitive gaming, and whilst this is a much smaller amount than is spent on traditional sports, it shows a willingness to embrace one of the more surprising 21st century entertainment trends.

Nowhere is this more evident than by taking a look at the new Entertainment and Sports Arena in the Southeast district of the city. This $69 million stadium offers a multi-purpose space to cater to basketball matches and concerts, but Events DC wants to ensure that it meets the demands of the region’s gamers.

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© Events DC

As such, the Entertainment and Sports Arena features a horseshoe shaped seating plan so that spectators can watch the gaming action via the big screen whilst the gamers compete at the open end. The city has already found success in putting on esport tournaments with 2,000 gamers flocking to attend a recent event in the DC Armoury, and it’s hoped that the new arena will host between five and ten top-level competitive gaming competitions each year.

But it doesn’t just stop there as DC Events have also put money into sponsoring the travelling esports tournament, Conquest, that features contests between top players of titles like Street Fighter V and Tekken 7. And with the esports events attracting the investment of massive brands like Hyundai, 7 Eleven and Red Bull, it’s hoped that Washington DC’s infrastructure will benefit greatly from the competitive gaming phenomenon.

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Washington DC’s vibrant esports scene

In a bid to help Washington DC become the nation’s capital of esports, we have seen many private individuals splashing out to invest in top gaming talent. Nowhere was this better since than in October this year when it was revealed that the local entrepreneur, Mark Ein, had bought into the Overwatch League. Ein is thought to have spent up to $60 million in creating the new Overwatch franchise that has temporarily been named Overwatch DC.

The new esports team will be Washington DC’s first professional Overwatch team, and it will join seven other esports organisations who will be taking their first steps in the second season of the phenomenally successful Overwatch League next year. It’s a wise move by Ein as there are meant to be nearly one million Overwatch players in the region, and it could be hugely profitable to get involved early in the growth of one the fastest growing esports leagues in the world.

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© Joanne S. Lawton

But it’s not just the efforts of businessmen like Ein that are causing an esports revolution in Washington DC. From NRG Esports partnering up with Events DC to focus its Overwatch team in the city, to the formidable gameplay of the Wizards District NBA 2K League team, it seems as though Washington DC is ready to make its presence felt on the competitive gaming realm.

In addition to this, we have also seen local ventures like Esports Fairplay successfully hosting a big FIFA tournament at Audi Field, and with promising esports companies like Game Gym setting up a video game training centre, it seems as though Washington DC could soon be competing with established esports epicentres.

Although the majority of esports fans enjoy watching live streams of tournaments via channels like Twitch, it’s hoped that DC Events can bring gamers together in the city. By focusing on community events and hosting big gaming tournaments, there are hopes that one of America’s most famous cities can benefit as a whole from the competitive gaming phenomenon.

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Author
Sam - "SamForr" | Esports News Writer

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