Born out of live-streamed video gaming, esports is booming, drawing millions of passionate fans and players to in-person tournaments worldwide. Toronto has emerged as a growing host city for major esports events, with an engaged community of fans, franchises and venues. In July, Toronto hosted the EsportsTravel Summit, bringing the world’s largest gathering of esports tournament and video game event organizers to showcase what Toronto has to offer in this space.
In the latest EDGE Event, Scott Ventresca, International Sales Director at Destination Toronto, hosted a panel of experts including: Anthea Foyer, Sector Development Officer, Economic Development & Culture, City of Toronto; Bryce Eldridge, Senior Director, Global Partnerships, MLSE; and, Geoffrey Lachapelle, Manager, Red Bull Gaming Hub, Toronto Metropolitan University for a lively discussion on how esports creates opportunities for businesses in Toronto's visitor economy, insights on the esports audience, and tips to engage.
Here are 6 takeaways from the Edge Event:
A major esports competition is very similar to what you see at a professional sports event. It’s an event with highly skilled players taking the place of pro athletes, playing video games on a large screen on stage with crowds of fans cheering them on. These events often take over sports stadiums or hotel ballrooms and can range from 4-6 hours. Like traditional sports, fans pack the stands for their favourite players and are extremely loyal. Adding to the event is sponsor and booth activations surrounding the stage, as well as professional audio-visual and broadcast of the event.
Just like the Maple Leafs, Raptors or Blue Jays that have their own core demographic, so too do esports franchises. This crowd tends to be young and diverse, consume non-linear TV or mainstream media, and like to be together for these events. While this audience tends to be quite young, they are “aging up” and starting to have children, and looking for ways to bring their families to these events and build the next generation of fan.
Born out of live-streamed video gaming, esports is booming, drawing millions of passionate fans and players to in-person tournaments worldwide.
There is a well-entrenched culture of video games in Toronto, and esports provides an opportunity to capitalize on it. Canada is well known on the world stage for its players and community, and is a major exporter of professional players. Per capita, Canada sends more competitive players into professional play than any other country in the world. And given that most of these players are from areas with accessible internet, Toronto is really leading this charge. The result of all of this is a community that is extremely competitive, enthusiastic, engaged and eager to consume esports in-person with other fans.
The City of Toronto, Ontario Creates and Destination Toronto have created an Esports Strategy, to show the importance of, and lend support in, helping to grow the sector. One of the outcomes is the creation of a consortium to grow the ecosystem and connect the community with Toronto businesses. Part of the strategy focuses on the opportunities hosting large-scale Esports events has for the visitor economy. Toronto is poised to be a major esports hub given its existing and growing infrastructure, city access, and the diverse population helping to foster the community here.
Like any new emerging business, it’s important to research and understand how you can authentically tap into this growing market.
Organizers of esports events have a huge number of needs when sourcing and planning their events, from venue, accommodation, AV and technical support. Also, organizers will have ancillary needs for these events like practice and scrimmage space for teams, food services, spaces for fan engagement and activations within the city. Given the nature of the event, one of the most important needs from an organizing perspective is broadcast/streaming capabilities of the event for the audience not in the arena.
Tapping into Esports
With a flourishing community in the city, there are tons of opportunities to tap into esports whether it be sponsorship, venue partners or hosting. Like any new emerging business, it’s important to research and understand how you can authentically tap into this growing market. The best way to start your journey into esports is to get out and watch. Check an event whether it’s a small grass-roots community event or a larger tournament. Seeing esports in person can give you a deeper understanding of the audience, organizers and community. And if you have additional questions on how to engage, you can reach out to Scott Ventresca, International Sales Director at Destination Toronto.
If you’re looking to check out an esports event in person, take advantage of a very special offer from Overactive Media for 30% off Thursday, Friday and Saturday single-day tickets for the Overwatch League Grand Finals taking place at Mattamy Athletic Centre, September 28 - October 1, 2023. Book your tickets here using promo code EdgeEvent30 to get in the game!