Season two of the Lynx Legend Esports Tournament to find Australasia's next esports champion, starts on September 14.
Sponsored by Lynx and Xbox to celebrate the launch of Lynx Xbox deodorant and body wash range*, the tournament is a fun way for anyone, particularly Xbox owners to dip a toe into the esports world.
The top players who make it through each qualifying round across Australia and New Zealand will be flown to the major gaming event PAX in Melbourne to compete in the grand final on October 13 – which will be live streamed and with the grand prize an all-expenses-paid trip to the PAX East games showcase in Boston.
There are still entries open for the tournament and, while esports is still a growing phenomenon in New Zealand, our esports athletes are beginning to make a name for themselves on the international stage.
That brings closer the day when local esports experts can earn a living at this fiercely competitive and popular sport – and the Lynx tournament is a chance for "an average Joe" to experience what the professionals go through and to see if he or she can foot it.
Marc Holloway, Lynx brand manager, says: "This tournament levels the playing field— because the need to be good at a variety of games in this concept, is something unique in esports. In conventional esports tournaments, the skill level is incredibly high and, realistically, the average player cannot compete. Now they can."
This year the global esports market is expected to generate revenues of US$1.1 billion, up 26.7 per cent year on year, while the audience will reach 453 million, made up of 201m esports enthusiasts and 252m occasional viewers. The average age of participants is in the early 30s.
A few years ago a career in esports was regarded as unrealistic but now professional gaming teams are making as much as some Premier League and NBA players. Top international players are earning more than $2m a year in prize money, while some professional teams have shared winnings of up to $20m a year.
New Zealand's esports market isn't anywhere near that level of revenue yet, though New Zealanders spent $118m on retail store games in 2017, according to the Interactive Games Entertainment Association. Kiwi athletes are starting to experience international competition and gaining valuable knowledge about what it takes to compete at the top level.
Like New Zealanders Chris "CoverH" Hunt, 18, and Sam "Twizz" Pearson, 23, who won $75,000 each for finishing last in the finals of the world's biggest Fortnite video game tournament in New York. Just qualifying for the tournament was tough; they fought it out with millions of others from around the world in a 10-week qualification process that whittled the numbers down to the final 50 teams of two to fly to New York.
Like Daniel Saedian, better known as "DanBanter," who trains for 20 hours a week playing Tekken 7. He was New Zealand's sole eBlack representative at November's International eSports Federation world championships in Taiwan, where he was one of 32 Tekken competitors, each representing a different nation. He made the last 16 before being knocked out by the Japanese representative and is now trying to build a career in esports.
Holloway says the possibilities are endless for Kiwi esports players: "The market is growing but there is still a relative lack of top esports competition for Kiwis to get involved with – which is why we have partnered with Xbox to provide this unique opportunity.
"It is a big opportunity. You just have to listen to what New Zealand gamers who have set foot on the big stage say about the experience and the doors it potentially opens for them.
"Anyone can enter – you don't have to be a pro; one of the advantages of this being a new sport is that it means previously unknown people can turn out to be stars. Those who have been playing and practising a while also get to experience the pressures of a tournament."
Holloway says you only had to listen to Hunt and Pearson after the Fortnite finals to understand they won more than their $75,000 each: "They said when they got back that they'd learned a lot of new tactics during the tournament which they will now employ themselves."
The Lynx Legend Esports Tournament will also involve leading esports organisers ESL – to host 4 "fierce" qualifier rounds across Australia and New Zealand. Gamers will face off across multiple popular games on the Xbox Game Pass network.
"The esports master who comes out on top will be crowned the inaugural Lynx Legend," says Holloway, "an experience money can't buy."
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*The tournament coincides with the launch of the new Lynx Xbox deodorant and body wash range, with scents of pulsing green citrus, notes of kaffir lime and winter melon, aromatic herbal mint and sage middle notes and woody bottom notes of patchouli and clearwood.