Esports—or, competitive video gaming—is a vast and growing enterprise, with millions of fans worldwide and billions of revenue dollars up for grabs every year. Video game producers, including Blizzard and Valve, host massive competitions all over the world. The top players travel to tournaments, which are filmed and live-streamed in front of a live audience in venues in the US, Canada, and other locations throughout Europe and Asia. These live events draw huge numbers of committed fans, and more and more venues are making space for these dedicated fans to see their favorite players live and in person. Irwin Seating is ideally situated to fulfill the seating needs for esports venues.
Reasons for Venues to Consider Adding Esports
In order to stay profitable, venue operators need the flexibility to host many events throughout the year. Hundreds of major esports events are held worldwide, with fans coming out to see their favorite players compete at state, regional, national, and international tournaments.
Esports are also making their way onto college campuses. There are currently 200 US colleges and universities with varsity-level esports teams, spread out through a number of leagues. Around 314 schools have chapters of Tespa, a nationwide network of students, competitors, and club leaders, which indicates that esports at the collegiate level continues to grow.
Supporting the Esports Experience
When designing an arrangement for an esports venue, it's vital to remember that spectators are looking at the screen rather than at a stage, pitch, or court. Most screens are ceiling-hung, so viewers spend a lot of time looking up. Esports tournaments can go on for a number of hours, so well-cushioned seating is a must. Offering comfortable reclining seats like those that are becoming standard in movie theaters provides a seated position that’s well-suited for people to keep their eyes on the action.
Esports seating should also support technology. Spectators bring along smartphones and tablets so that they can live tweet matches and look up stats. Adding wired and wireless power allows them to keep their devices fully charged throughout the event. Ports to plug in headsets allow for a fully immersive experience, allowing the fans a more intimate connection to the action.
There are exciting innovations in seating options on the way. We've made a proposal to Fusion Arena to offer luxury suite club seating. We foresee the project including specialized technology hub tables that allow space on top for personal items, as well as charging ports for electronic devices.
Design Success Stories
For Irwin, offering specialized seating for esports events was a natural outgrowth of the things we already do. The needs of the esports market is very consistent with what other spectator event markets require, so our experience serves us well as we begin to help venues add esports events to their capabilities.
Our work with Le Reve Theatre, for instance, involved creating a unique theater-in-the-round venue for an immersive experience. The majority of the chairs in the 1,600-seat venue have padded and upholstered armrests and backs with side bolsters and lumbar support. These chairs offer superior comfort, no matter how long the event. In the upper concourse, we worked with the designers to put in special VIP chairs with intermediate drink tables.
Dickies Arena is a great example of a venue that adapts throughout the year to accommodate an amazing variety of events. During most of the year, it hosts hockey, basketball, and concerts. During the month-long Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo, however, the venue transforms to a fully-featured rodeo arena. This venue's seating is designed to offer optimal sight lines to all spectators. Critical to their flexible floor plans, Irwin’s telescopic units feature structural decks with reverse-anchored chairs, dual rise platforms, and additional portable low-rise platforms that are used with folding chairs.
At Irwin, we have extensive experience providing seating for public sports and entertainment venues. Fully 80% of all NBA and NHL arenas feature our chairs. We are excited for the future of the growing esports market and are looking forward to being a part of creating an excellent gaming environment for esports fans and the venues who host them.