Call it what you will, but I never thought I would see the day when esports would take off like it did. Fueled by a heavy player and viewer demand, esports is growing by leaps and bounds every day. Growing so much that there will be a new esports pavilion at NAB Show 2019.
NAB Show is introducing the Esports Experience, a new exhibit floor destination located in the North Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center. The interactive area features exhibits, a theater and educational programming that showcase the latest online gaming trends and content delivery technologies.
Sessions will examine the overall landscape of the increasingly popular live gaming industry. Examples of topics include branding, media rights, in-game camera systems, streaming, monetization, consumer engagement and game development, among others. The Esports Experience will include a live gaming component, in which attendees can observe professional teams and also have the opportunity to play themselves.
The Esports Experience houses a built-in recording studio, in which popular gaming radio show CheckPoint XP will conduct live interviews with NAB Show speakers, industry leaders, and influencers.
Additionally, NAB Show will feature a Main Stage session titled “The Esports Evolution: What’s Next in Gaming” on Wednesday, April 10. Panelists will discuss trends and technologies impacting both players and content creators. Participants include professional gamer and founder of ReadyUp Johnathan “Fatal1ty” Wendel; Detroit Renegades Co-owner Chris Roumayeh; Ari Segal, CEO, Immortals, LA Valiant & MIBR; and compLexity Gaming Chief Media Officer Cam Kelly.
If you're smart, you better get there early because it is going to be packed. As they say in Vegas, the action is at this table. According to a recent Reuters report, the esports industry is estimated to be around 1.1 billion dollars in 2019. That is up a whopping 27% compared to the same time period last year. That is not a typo. So there is money to be made for sure. We get that. But who is making and buying the production gear to take on this new challenge? Let’s take a look at what you should be paying attention to at the show and literally right down the street.
Grass Valley? That Grass Valley? The one that makes those humungous and very cool broadcast switchers and cameras? One and the same. I learned how to punch live games and roll slo-mo on a Grass. Grass Valley will host a live eSports competition on its booth with live gameplay and professional gamers.
The Grass Valley booth will also feature a live esports production environment that replicates the production workflow. Gear will include Grass Valley's LDX 86N Series cameras, two M/E GV Korona K-Frame V-series production switcher, the Ignite automated production control platform to drive the switcher, a T2 4K digital recorder/player to archive the daily competitions, and the LiveTouch highlights system that will handle super-slow motion and instant replays.
The live games will be hosted by specialist esports interviewer, commentator, writer, and presenter Freya Spiers, an esports enthusiast who co-founded topmid.gg to create a platform for esports news, interviews and features.
The professional gamers competing on Grass Valley's NAB Show 2019 booth are:
The Switch, Esports Pavillion
Next up is The Switch eSports™, which integrates eSports production, transmission, and distribution from anywhere in the world, is the latest addition to The Switch's managed, private cloud services for linear and streaming broadcasters around the globe. In addition to the launch of this new product suite, The Switch will sponsor the “Esports Experience,” the NAB Show’s first eSports pavilion located in the North Hall (N1921), which will highlight the technology behind eSports production, brand building initiatives and monetization strategies in what is the fastest growing segment of the entertainment industry.
Shhh. I think I am going to have to play hooky and go check out the new Esports arena at the Luxor. More than two dozen Panasonic pan/tilt/zoom cameras are being used in key roles in live production at the Esports Arena Las Vegas at the Luxor Hotel and Casino, the first permanent Esports venue on The Strip. The camera models are the AW-HE130 three-chip and AW-HE2 compact FHD PTZs.
The 30,000-square-foot, multi-level arena, which opened earlier this year, is designed to host every form of competitive gaming. As Allied Esports’ global flagship arena, the venue hosts players around the world who compete for the chance to play in Las Vegas against the world’s top competitors across multiple titles.
Systems integrator CBT Systems (Poway, CA) designed, fabricated and provided integration services at the Esports Arena. According to company president Darrell Wenhardt, there are several distinct production-centric areas in the arena, including the premier production facility that delivers content to the arena’s two-story LED video wall and live streams across the world.
Wenhardt explained that 15 HE130 PTZs support both production and broadcast systems, with two of the cameras placed in the commentators’ booth, two in the studio, and 11 cameras strategically sited around the building for primary use as “player-cams.” A dozen HE2s are typically situated above the players’ screens, as well as assigned to capture stage perspectives and the players’ entrance ramp, and are used for general purpose cameras. Two Panasonic BT-4LH310 4K/2K production monitors are deployed in the studio control room.
Lastly, If you don’t think eSports isn’t a serious business take a minute and check this press release from F1 Esports. See you at the show!
Formula 1 will bring back its official Esports competition for a third season and has "more than doubled" its prize money for 2019 to a total of $500,000.
The F1 Esports Series format remains similar to last year but it has been extended with a wider window for qualifying on the F1 2018 video game on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and compatible PCs.
Those selected from the qualifying stage will again enter the Pro Draft stage, which will take place over two days in July and allow the real-life F1 teams to select their drivers for the Pro Series.
The first of those two days will have a series of race-offs and will identify the best drivers.
The slowest drivers will be eliminated and the pool of drivers will be whittled down for the F1 teams to select from.
Once picked, The Pro Series will then take place between September and December across four live events to decide the F1 Esports Series' teams' and drivers' championship and the winner of $500,000.
There has also been a tweak to the regulations to incorporate the point for the fastest lap to match the real-life F1 2019 season.
F1 has also announced plans to expand the competition into China for the very first time, with a series of invitational events ahead of a full link-up into the 2020 Pro Draft.
“Last season was a decisive year for F1 Esports with the inclusion of the first official teams and record audience figures," said Sean Bratches, F1's commercial managing director.
"As we move into this 2019 season, F1 will remain at the forefront of this explosive industry.
"The potential within this space is extremely exciting both as a commercial opportunity, but importantly, as a way for the sport to engage with the next generation of motorsport fans.
"We are committed to exponential growth in the world of esports, and as a result, the 2019 season is going to be even bigger and better.
"Having more than doubled the prize fund, we plan to attract even more talent to the series and to continue the upward trajectory we are on.”
Frank Sagnier, CEO at Codemasters - the publishers of F1's official video game - added: “The F1 New Balance Esports Series creates exciting opportunities for Codemasters to further engage with our core community and develop experiences for fans with a passion for both virtual and real-world racing.
"We’re always investigating ways to better integrate esports into our F1 games, as this will encourage more players to test their race skills against the top professionals, and we look forward to welcoming the new talent who will emerge this season.”