ACS (Australian Computer Society) has ventured into new territory, signing as a foundation partner of the Australian Esports League (AEL).
The two organisations plan to work together to promote eSports in Australia and help strengthen the local ICT sector. Under the agreement, AEL will move into the ACS Technology and Innovation Hub in Sydney, initially as a tenant in the accelerator space and eventually to use the facility as the broadcast home of its University Cup.
AEL co-founder, Darren Kwan, said that the partnership was based on a mutual vision of supporting growth in the Australian ICT sector.
“Esports is creating jobs, particularly in the areas of systems, network admin, software development and within the games industry. It is supporting local talent and local investment in the ICT industry across the board,” he said.
Founded in 2011, the AEL was first launched while eSports — which is best described as competitive video gaming — was still in its infancy. Seven years on and some eSports athletes can attract higher fees than many professional sportspeople, with gaming streaming sites like Twitch now reaching a mass audience.
The BBC recently reported that organisers for the 2024 Olympics in Paris are “deep in talks” to have eSports included as a demonstration sport, while the 2022 Asian Games in China will include competitive video gaming in its official program.
PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) predicts that eSports revenue in Australia will double to $21 million by 2022. In 2016, AEL delivered Australia’s first eSports free-to-air broadcast on SBS which reached a combined audience of 400,000 Australians.
“Having participated in eSports for over 17 years, I have personally seen it come from a predominately online-focused community activity with limited live events offered via internet cafés or LAN events to now taking over arenas and headlining in the news and major publications,” Kwan said. “I sense it will continue to grow, settling into a mature industry and moving from strength to strength that will see fan numbers explode and improved recognition.”
AEL now operates across Australia in high schools, universities and international qualifiers. The AEL University Cup operates in more than 22 universities from around Australia which have student-led esports clubs. The teams are seeded in the preliminary rounds and play in a points-based ‘swiss format’, before the top eight teams play-off in a single-elimination bracket in the quarter then semi-finals. A live grand final features the top two teams facing off onstage as they battle for the University Cup.
The competition is streamed three nights a week. Players can compete in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Dota 2 and Rocket League for their shot at a share in the $15,000 prize pool.