It could yet be a demonstration sport at the Paris 2024 Olympics but for players at Three Ireland’s e Stars Finals in the 3Arena on Sunday, six years is an eternity.
E Sports is estimated to be worth €1.25 Billion within the next two years and there are bigger numbers watching tournaments like this on Twitch.tv than there are watching well established major sporting events.
The event at the weekend was Ireland’s first major tournament and for it to take place at the 3 Arena is a marker of the intent laid down by organiser Mags Byrne who went from immersing herself in learning about the sport to staging this in less than six months.
Sligo Rovers emerged as the winners of the tournament and will now go on to represent Ireland at a major gaming event in Las Vegas later this year.
The five-man team also earned €20,000 in prize money after beating Shamrock Rovers two-nil in the best of three final after a tournament that ran around the country for ten weeks.
Apart from the players themselves and the crowds drawn to watch live and online, Three were on board as sponsors and even had their own team in the tournament, made up of customers registered through the 3 Plus loyalty programme.
Played across 10 weeks at League of Ireland venues nationwide, nine teams battled it out, each representing a League of Ireland football club along with Three’s very own team, made up of customers registered through the loyalty programme 3Plus.
The weekend Finals also featured guest performances from YouTube superstars The F2 Freestylers and dance sensations Prodijig.
“We are delighted to have been involved with Ireland’s biggest esports tournament which was a truly unique experience,” said Karl Donnelly, Head of Sponsorship at Three Ireland.
“On behalf of Three, we would like to congratulate Sligo Rovers on claiming the inaugural title and we wish them well in Las Vegas. Our own team, Team Three, were unlucky not to make the finals but it has been incredible to witness first-hand how the sport has grown in popularity since week one of the tournament.”
“With this partnership, we were delighted to further enhance our offering to customers in the gaming community, as well as being able to offer the first smartphone from gaming giant Razer which is available exclusively on the Three network.”
If you don’t yet get the idea of gaming as a competitive sport, then you really should take the time. It’s different but it’s a grower and this event will be the first of many on these shores.
Image Credit: Bryan Keane, Inpho Photography