April 6-7, 2024
It won’t be long before esports are dominating Australian screens in a mainstream way, with Adelaide fans able to catch a glimpse of what’s to come and the stars of tomorrow when the AEL University Cup Season 2 grand finals take place Supanova Comic Con & Gaming from 2 – 4 November.
“I think it’s Australia’s next big sport,” Australian Esports League director Darren Kwan tells Supanova.
He admits it won’t happen overnight, but is sure we’ll one day be “talking about it just like we talk about the AFL or the Rugby”.
Much in the same way the atmosphere during those games is electric, nothing compares to witnessing some of the best gamers go head-to-head in a live arena. The upcoming grand finals will see students playing CS:GO, Rocket League and Dota 2.
The AEL had 26 universities competing this year (that’s almost 1,000 students forming over 80 teams over the year), and the final players left are vying for a share of the annual $15,000 prize pool and University Cup.
Kwan says supporting students has been important for AEL since the beginning.
“We want to give them the right support and the right pathways so they can get in and start learning what it is like to compete, especially in a well-structured environment where there’s formalised rules, great support and a great tournament running,” he explains.
The esports community is unique and thriving, which Kwan attributes in part to its inclusivity.
“Almost anybody can pick up a video game and get into it,” he tells. “Any race, any age, any gender – it doesn’t really matter. Video gaming is so universal, so that’s the core of the excitement for me, that it’s video games, and it involves everybody.
“You can find yourself on the other side of the world, and smack talk them or get along, but the fact that you can just do that from home is incredible.”
It’s a powerful enough gaming experience playing someone across the world, let alone having numerous people in the same room being cheered along.
“For a player, it’s an absolute buzz. You’ve got this vibe, a cheering crowd, everyone is there to celebrate your skill, and you can really take yourself to another level in that environment,” Kwan explains.
“If you’re playing at home, you might think you’re very good at this game, but when you watch these guys that are competing they’re really taking it to another level, and they can really show you some awesome stuff.”
So, what does it take to hit the big time in esports?
“Dedication is a big one,” Kwan responds without hesitation. “Natural talent plays a role, but I think dedication is more important.
“What we see are the successful players who stick to a regime of training, of exercise, of dieting; balancing themselves out so at every point they’re honed to the best they can be, and they learn from all of their mistakes so they can improve.
“I think the very first thing anyone who wants to get into this level of gaming needs to do is to look at themselves and say, where are you today, what are your skills, where is your rank in the game, and then figure out where your weaknesses are, and start focusing dedicated training days improving those.”
Hosted by Matty B, Punzie Cosplay, Manic Munday and more, the 2018 Season 2 grand finals of the AEL University Cup at Supanova Adelaide will see the University of NSW take on Queensland University of Technology in Rocket League, the University of NSW take on RMIT University in Dota 2 and Monash University take on the Australian National University in CS:GO.
Pick up your weekend pass here.