CNBNewsnet | February 28, 2019
PHILADELPHIA PA --Whilst traditional sports teams like the Philadelphia Eagles and the Philadelphia 76ers have quite rightly made the city a sporting hotspot, it’s also true that Philadelphia is becoming a very important place on the esports map. Thanks the pioneering efforts of massive franchises like Philadelphia Fusion, the city is well represented in the Overwatch League, and there are several grassroots organizations that are showing that gamers in Philadelphia can easily take on the best in the world.
Esports, or competitive gaming, has only been around for less than 20 years, but in that space of time, the activity has grown to become a billion-dollar business. Initially many people were skeptical about the growth of competitive gaming, as esports was seen to be non-physical activity that was strictly for teenagers only.
But as esports has grown, then big businesses have started to realize the hold that competitive gaming had on the younger generation. As a result, we have seen many large brands aiming to sponsor and invest in esports, and it seems that Philadelphia has witnessed some of the largest of these initiatives.
Take Philadelphia Fusion who are one of the founding teams of the hugely successful Overwatch League. Philadelphia Fusion were acquired by the entertainment and sports brand, Comcast Spectator, who have invested plenty of money into helping the team become real contenders for claiming the Overwatch League title.
Whilst Philadelphia Fusion were narrowly beaten by London Spitfire in the finals, they managed to show that the city has plenty of hunger for a pro gaming team. Comcast Spectator seized the initiative by setting up a special Fusion University in early 2018. This would field a team of up-and-coming talent to compete in the Overwatch Contenders North America league.
It’s worth remembering that Comcast Spectator also own the Philadelphia Flyers hockey team and as well many other sporting organizations in the city. So the fact that it would invest a significant amount of money in a fledgling esports tournament such as the Overwatch illustrates just how lucrative this previously niche activity has become.
But of course, Overwatch is one game amongst many in the esports realm. All over Philadelphia there are groups that have been set up to help youngsters participate in a wide range of esports. Take N3rd Street Gamers who now host boot camps for the hugely popular Counter Strike Global Offensive title. Whilst this organization might not yet be featured amongst the odds for the first-person shooter at betting resources like counterstrikebetting.com, it’s these grassroots organizations that are pivotal to the Philadelphia’s gaming success.
The N3rd Street Gamers have even taken the significant steps of opening a dedicated esports arena in Colorado. This will run alongside the brand’s own Localhost Arena in Philadelphia that regularly runs tournaments and showcases for PC and console gamers.
Of course, esports is about so much more than first-person shooters like CSGO and Overwatch. Philadelphia’s community of gamers have also been proving their worth in many top sporting simulators too. This was seen when the Philadelphia Union team managed to win the eMLS Team of the Year accolade at the recent MLS Awards.
Philadelphia Union may be known primarily as being a soccer team, but by introducing their own esports side, they will open up the franchise to much younger demographic who may shy away from traditional sports. The team have even used some interesting methods to recruit new gamers to their cause. This was seen when the Union College Clash was established to get college students to sign up to the FIFA 19 gaming tournament.
The winner of this tournament would get to join some of Philadelphia’s star gamers like Cormac ‘Doolsta’ Dooley on the Philadelphia Union permanent roster. Dolley had previously hit the headlines by being the city’s representative at the eMLS CUP in Boston.
Such is the popularity of these ventures, that it is no surprise to find that big business is rushing to get involved in sponsoring the top esports teams and players. Philadelphia Fusion have already benefited from a big sponsorship deal with the telecommunications equipment manufacturers, Arris, and it’s partnerships like this that will help esports go from strength to strength.
It’s the sheer breadth of esports in Philadelphia that shows just how quickly this movement is growing. From the Philly Esports Super Smash Bros tournament at Hussian College, to the latest Philadelphia Fusion exploits in the Overwatch League, it seems that the city just can’t get enough of esports.