The last few weeks have seen some exciting announcements in the Australian eSports scene, with Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Hearthstone and Rocket League competitions all making their way down under this year.
The notoriously short eSports offseason is proving to be almost non-existent now, with the League of Legends Oceanic Pro League commencing two weeks ago, as well as the Heroes of the Storm Global Championship and the Overwatch League.
Amidst the exciting start to 2018, the schedule is set to get even more packed, with three exciting announcements over the last fortnight adding some more red circles to the Australian eSports calendar.
The biggest announcement was the most recent, with Electronic Sports League (ESL) announcing the return of the CS:GO Intel Extreme Masters event in Sydney, taking place from Friday, May 4 to Sunday, May 6 at the Qudos Bank Arena at Olympic Park.
The two-day event in 2017 proved to be a raging success, with vice president of pro gaming at ESL Michal Blicharz saying it “blem [them] away.”
“The Australian eSports audience was extremely engaged in the event,” he said.
“They left us no choice but to come back and do it again.”
That tournament featured eight teams, with SK Gaming defeating FaZe Clan in the final 3-1 to claim the $200,000 (USD) prize, with this edition featuring 16 teams and a bigger prize pool of $250,000.
The Intel Extreme Masters is regularly one of the biggest eSports events on the calendar – especially the annual event in Katowice, Poland.
A few weeks prior – right in the lead-up to the Hearthstone Championship Tour finals in Amsterdam – Blizzard announced the third Championship Tour stop of 2018 would also take place in the Harbour City.
Barely two months after the highly successful Sydney Inn-vitational, competitive Hearthstone will return to Sydney on Saturday, February 24 and Sunday, February 25.
Registrations are open to any residents of Australia and New Zealand, with online qualifications taking place this weekend (Feb. 3-4), before the finals take place at an as-of-yet unannounced venue.
While not a fully fledged Championship Tour event, the tour stop is sure to be a closely-watched event as it will likely be the first championship event after the much-discussed incoming balance changes.
The prize pool for this event is a modest $15,000 (USD), but is part of the larger qualification process for the big events later in the year.
The other big announcement in the eSports scene was Throwdown announcing the Oceanic Open Series as part of the Rocket League Championship Series.
Starting this weekend, the open series will pit amateur teams against one another – as well as some pro teams – with qualification to the Oceanic Championship Series and a share of $15,000 on offer.
Chiefs, Tainted Minds and Dark Sided have been specially invited to take place in the open series, with five spots still available from the open qualifier.
The two top-placed teams from the Oceanic Championship will progress to the World Championship – where the prize pool balloons to a whopping $500,000 (USD).
These announcements, coupled with the upcoming Gfinity Elite Series, should give fans good reason to believe 2018 will be the best year yet for Australian eSports.