Calgary eSports League holds debut event sparking the Calgary pro gaming scene

A new eSports league has emerged onto the Calgary gaming scene, with a debut event this month.

The Calgary eSports League (CEL) is hosting their inaugural event at Telus Spark on Jan. 15. 

All of the big eSports titles are represented in this event, including iconic competitive games Super Smash Bros. Melee, League of Legends, and Overwatch.

Garic Leong, president of SAIT’s competitive gaming club, said that the event would “garner quite a lot of interest” for fellow post-secondary clubs.

“The potential is there,” Leong said.

“There are definitely people who want to take that first step onto a much bigger stage.”

calgary esports

SAIT isn’t new to esports: Christina Kang, Left, Txabi Sumastre, middle, and Taylor Peters, right, after Sumastre won a FIFA e-gaming tournament at the Gateway at SAIT in Calgary on Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017. The event was organized by SAIT, and sponsored by Microsoft. (Photo by Ian Gustafson/SAIT)

The interest of eSports is forever growing both financially and with viewership. The sport is estimated to grow to over $1 billion in revenue in 2019.

Every year, eSports viewership rapidly increases, with more people estimated to have watched the 2018 League of Legends world championship than the Super Bowl.

Leong, who has been president of the club for one-and-a-half years, has seen the growth first-hand.

“I think the people who come regularly are a definite highlight and show the interest that people have to the competitive scene,” Leong said.

While the eSports club at SAIT has a competitive atmosphere, they don’t have an official team. Leong said the club is more like a gateway to introduce people to the competitive scene.

He added that it is up to the individual club members to compete in the CEL debut event.

“I’m pretty sure those who feel comfortable and confident would want to compete.”

With eSports clubs also established at the University of Calgary and Mount Royal University, CEL spokesman Wes Nelson explained that post-secondary gamers would most likely be the heap of the competition.

“They all intercommunicate with each other a lot better, so I wouldn’t be surprised if less than three-quarters [of the competition] wasn’t post-secondary,” said Nelson.

CEL partnered up with Telus Spark to help further develop the Calgary eSports community. Because of the partnership, the CEL has temporarily found a home for future events.

The timing of the event was “perfect” according to Nelson, who also works for Spark.

“[Spark] had some extra multimedia space that we could make use of.”

Leong sees potential in this event, crediting the overwhelming amount of attention eSports is getting.

“The ever growing interest in eSports can allow Calgary to be known as a well-known gaming hub and could provide a future foundation to holding  international events,” Leong said.

The event will be broadcast live on Twitch, with a hefty (minimum $2,000) prize pool.

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