Imagine a world where video games were like sports, professional players were scouted like NBA players, and teams trained in modern facilities as their full-time job. This may seem like a fantasy world for Australians, but in South Korea, this is a reality.
Samsung Australia invited The Roar to join them as they took Australian League Of Legends team, Legacy Esports, to Seoul for an experience of a lifetime. The young team were able to meet Korean LOL superstars Gen.G, take a tour of their training facility, and play a series of friendly matches against the Gen.G Academy Team.
Gen.G’s headquarters is a 6-story facility that players commute to and from each day. Players have access to a café, high-end gaming systems, streaming studios, and relaxation rooms that are available to them at any hour. The resources available to this group of elite players is astounding, and a far cry from what would be considered the norm for a professional gamer in Australia.
The celebrity status of top Korean players became more apparent when Legacy E-Sports attended the international League Of Legends tournament ‘Rift Rivals’. What felt more like a basketball stadium featured a centre stage housing 10 computers, and giant monitors to show gameplay as the two teams battled it out for 45 minutes. The Seoul crowd roared at in-game events that were completely mysterious to someone who is not familiar with the complexities of the League Of Legends gameplay.
Gen.G’s Executive team boasts a wealth of experience from traditional sports. Their CEO comes from Major League Baseball, and their Head of Sales was previously with the Los Angeles Clippers. Players train up to 15 hours per day, and 8 hours a day in the League Of Legends off-season. This gaming popularity boom, combined with elite-level training facilities, truly blurs the lines between professional gaming and let’s say… Aussie Rules Football.
While it’s hard to imagine this level of industry for Esports in Australia, Legacy E-Sports themselves were a part of a first in the professional gaming landscape here when they were acquired by the Adelaide Football Club in 2017. Since then, many sporting clubs have acquired their own Esports organizations with the foresight of the industry resembling what South Korea shows right now as the future of professional gaming. Will we see stadiums dedicated to a particular gaming title pop up and host international events to sell-out crowds?
One would argue that we already see this with the Intel Extreme Masters CS:GO events in Sydney. But to truly see into the future of professional gaming in Australia, seeing what is happening today in South Korea may give you a very good idea.