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Thursday, July 18, 2024

Pushing Esports Canada to the Next Level

While certainly not one of the largest markets or among the most forthcoming historically, Canada is slowly building towards eSports prominence. Seemingly, the government isn’t looking to change its stance on ruling eSports alongside the likes of hockey and other traditional sports, but gains are being made across the country to promote the new form of digital competition.

Investments from private firms have started to pour in, including the $150 million acquisition of Vancouver’s Phoenix Labs by the massive platform Garena and $34 million via venture capital arrangements. Investment and the industry’s increasing momentum means that more players like earnings leaders Arteezy ($2.5 million), AUi_2000 ($2 million), and Twistzz ($1.5 million) should be joined by fellow million-dollar earners down the line.

With the government mostly leaving the eSports industry to its own devices, it’s coming down to outside efforts to promote and push Canadian eSports to the next level.

Building Esports infrastructure

Easily the largest project in Esports Canada right now is the highly anticipated, almost futuristic arena being built in Toronto. Spearheaded by OverActive Media and Populous, Toronto’s new Esports Performance Venue and Hotel has been in the works for a couple of years now, most recently revising its plans in March 2022 to meet the requirements of the City of Toronto.

These revised plans were given a 5-2 vote to go ahead, with a few suggestions made to change the clarity of access to and around the arena.

Revisions made since the initial application include rearranging the public realm to that of the Stanley Barracks as well as a green roof for the arena to provide sustainability benefits. All of the renders were acquired and detailed by Urban Toronto.

With the plans seemingly finalized, it should take 30 months to build the venue and its attached hotel, with late 2025 penciled in as the window for its grand opening. Its primary eSports tenants will be the Call of Duty and Overwatch League professional franchises under OverActive’s banner.

It’s not only Toronto setting up key facilities for events and team building. Over at St. Clair College, a new esports arena known as Nexus has been opened. It comes loaded with state-of-the-art playing facilities, including a computer lab, consoles, VR areas, and more.

Importantly, the suite loaded with high-end PCs and the likes of the PlayStation 5 is open to everyone – not just St. Clair students – increasing the accessibility of the sport. Edmonton’s city council is also reportedly working on bringing major events to them.

Expanding the eSports experience

As with traditional sports, the contributions of third parties can make a huge difference to the franchises’ incomes and also to the fans’ experience. The most obvious example of this is sports betting. The likes of the NHL, MLB, and NBA have firm betting partners, and just about every sportsbook in the world offers odds and deep markets on each game in those competitions.

This is gradually becoming the case with eSports. Right now, the leading platform for online betting in Canada offers an extensive range of up-to-date match odds. If the matches are taking place this week, you’ll almost certainly find odds for them. If the field is established, you can also get odds on individual player performance markets and outright winners in disciplines from League of Legends to Call of Duty and Valorant.

Another element in this vein is fantasy sports. Devising line-ups of players across a competition to attempt to create a team of the highest-scoring within a budget is a storied part of traditional sports. It just so happens that one of the most exciting eSports in Canada specializes in this exact arena. Fandom Sports runs a blockchain and cloud-based eSports fantasy platform and is developing another NFT-driven platform to accompany the fantasy side.

With more and more eSports competitions being hosted by Canadian arenas, private league runners, and even a national team forming and going off to tournaments in the Commonwealth, it’s clear that eSports is on the rise in Canada.

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