How do you build an esports empire that builds a good business AND creates the chance for everyone to have a shot at a pro contract?
Gfinity has one idea, and after kicking things off in the UK earlier this year they're bringing the concept to Australia.
The basics: Gfinity Australia will feature two key phases of play across three esports - Rocket League, Street Fighter V and CS:GO.
First, a flashy city-vs-city pro competition series that aims to draw audiences who want to jump on any sporting bandwagon when their local town is involved.
Expect two of these 'Elite Series' phases in 2018.
Second, a 'come one, come all' grassroots competition played out online that gives everyone their chance to get together with people they know and prove they've got the goods.
The first Challenger Series has already begun, and at the end of these competitions - after getting a share in $15,000 in prize money - some of the top players will get their chance to be drafted into Elite Series pro teams.
Buzz so far (that I've seen) has suggested players in the Challenger Series are finding the setup working really well, so it's great to hear the fundamentals around the entry point are well in hand.
One complaint is the idea that it's hard on a team that builds up their synergy as a unit to win at the Challenger level to have players taken out of the team to be drafted into the Elite Series.
But if we're being true to a grassroots concept, should it be about having lower levels teams win the right to step up to the next tier? I think we need to think about the idea of 'local' or 'regional' teams supporting their top players in their journey toward going pro.
We need to cultivate an environment where local groups lift local talent toward becoming pros, not trying to raise that local team into the full requirements of what it means to become a professional esports organisation.
So I think there's a great space for Gfinity Australia in the evolution of esports.
At its most awkward, it pushes three different games together into the team-based competition. How this plays out for spectators at live events will be interesting, and I haven't really grasped the detail on this fits together.
But this feature also removes any sense that one game and the influence of its developer underpins the concept.
I was worried about Gfinity Australia when it was first announced. The names teams were launched with reeked of a "let's reach out to the serious gamers" marketing effort written by people trying desperately to sound like they were cool kids who know cool internet things.
Thankfully, with the confirm those names were just part of selling the initial concept (whether that's a back track or not, they know the names were not going to work), the real work begins and I do look forward to tuning into what's happening as the Elite Series kicks off in 2018.
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