Intel Extreme Masters (IEM) is one of the largest and most well known eSports tournaments in the world. IEM kicked off its 12th edition this May in the land down under of all places. IEM Sydney 2017, is the first time that the major tournament has come down to Australia and the Qudos Bank Arena bang in the centre of the Sydney Olympic Village is where all the action is taking place. This officially makes Intel and ESL to be the first ones to bring such a massive stadium event to Australia.
A little backstory on IEM
Intel Extreme Masters began in 2006 in partnership with ESL which had well established itself as one of the major entities in the esports universe. Intel provides the funding for IEM which consists of a rather familiar format – multiple regional qualifiers leading up to a massive showdown in a chosen city. Thus far, the final event has always been the World Championship at Katowice in Poland. IEM season finals at Katowice are generally held around CeBIT, the computer expo.
Players may contend in a host of different games spanning across multiple genres. Each edition of IEM may have a different set of titles than previously covered as IEM tends to pick the popular titles of the year. As of now, the games played under IEM are Counter Strike 1.6 and Global Offensive, WarCraft 3: Reign of Chaos, WarCraft 3: Frozen Throne, World of Warcraft, Quake Live, StarCraft II and League of Legends.
The goal of IEM is to build a platform to help foster talent and grow the esports community. What started as an accompaniment at trade fairs has established itself well enough long back to emerge as one of the key factors that developed esports into a spectator sport.
IEM Sydney ended up attracting over 7,000 fans every day and nearly 8 million unique viewers online. This may not appear to be a large figure for an esports tournament but it should be noted that IEM Sydney was one of the many regionals that take place before the finals in Katowice, Poland. So for something that’s just kicking things off, this is quite an impressive number, especially given the fact that this is the first for Australia to host an event of such magnitude.
What’s next for IEM
Esports is about to become a medal event at the 2022 Asian Games. If we look at the general populace, then 1 in 3 people play some form of sport and given the way esports is catching up and is inherently more relatable for the digital natives, it’s poised to be an even bigger event.
Since VR is on the upswing, the next biggest step in eSports would be incorporating VR technologies. Intel is already partnering with Oculus, Microsoft and ASUS for VR based events and the same is expected in esports.
The other takeaway with esports is that genders and physical disabilities don’t require separate verticals within the esports universe. In fact, we’ve already seen mixed gender teams go up against each other.