IEM Sydney was full of fun, hype, and madness

Qudos Bank Arena was transformed from it’s usual sporting arena into an esports stadium

There’s usually sporting games in here. This weekend, it’s esports! (Photo Credit: The Chiefs)

“You look like a person that knows what’s going on, so what’s going on here?”

This is a question I get asked a lot, for a whole range of reasons. Two gentlemen came up to me on the final day of IEM outside the arena and asked this of me. I responded with the usual “it’s esports, a video game competition”. I explained it was CSGO “similar to Call of Duty” (most people seem to recognise that more), to which they responded “oh right, my brother’s probably here somewhere. Who’d have thought the arena would have video games in it!”

Yes, who’d have thought. It’s an interesting prospect to think around five years ago, most games were only played in a dark room late into the night.┬áBut it’s changed a lot. This is IEM Sydney’s second year running and according to Nick from ESL the whole event is

“Bigger, better, more. We have more teams, more players, and we’ve added an extra day to the event.”

It’s so exciting to see esports grow in this way. The organisers see the esports events growing in scope. Their hope for the future is to add even more teams to the competition, and also offer more money. Not just to the players themselves, but to everyone working in the scene. As Jordy “Elfishguy” put it:

“A lot of people in esports are still doing this as a hobby. So the next step is to make sure everyone is getting paid so we can all do stuff like this full time, because it is a full time gig”

Jordy is seeing the growth of the industry here. Esports isn’t simply a hobby anymore, it’s business. As we see more events all over the world, esports is another event on the weekly calendar. Imagine if footy players, organisers, sponsors etc. were still running competitions like a local Saturday hobby. Sure, it was like that at one stage, but no longer. As I said, it’s big business – there’s money involved, sponsorship, advertising, audience. And it will continue to grow as business does.

Aussies know how to hype

The players loved the way events were run in Sydney. For Jks from Renegades, he was excited to play here in Australia and be the home crowd:

“It was definitely nerve-racking but good. Overseas we’re not the home team so we don’t get the crowd behind us. But here, it was great to have the crowd behind us.”

Jks has been playing CSGO for a number of years but couldn’t have imagined playing on a big arena in front of a huge crowd. Players from non-Australian teams commented on the awesome atmosphere in Sydney, saying things like “the crowd is so great here”, “the crowd get so into it, I love it!”

And as for the fans, they simply love it. The atmosphere and the crowd is just electric! Crowds of people can be seen chanting, hitting beach-balls around the arena, wearing flags, cheering, and doing the IEM traditional shoey. It’s true Aussie-culture that’s found it’s way into esports. If you walk around and talk to the crowd, there’s resonating feelings about the whole event “yeah, I love the atmosphere”, “the crowd is insane, just so much fun”, “the shoeys, it’s not IEM without shoeys”.

The crowd goes wild! (Photo Credit: Radoslaw Makuch)

It’s also not IEM without all the exhibitors, games, and giveaways. Like the expo hall at PAX, IEM has large open areas where a number of companies have booths. This year there was the usual MSI, PLE Parts, Intel, HyperX, Predator, and more. But it was also awesome to see Hyundai, Vodafone, and Red Bull get behind esports. There was great engagement at these stands, especially Red Bull, and Vodafone who both ran competitions and stages.

Had an awesome time playing against SYF Gaming at the MSI booth

Speaking of Vodafone, they sponsored the first women’s CSGO competition. The final was held live in front of an excited crowd and streamed online. I had the pleasure of chatting to some of the ladies at Sydney Saints who commented on the importance of women in esports:

“Like now, at the pro level, there’s it’s just not representative of the number of women who play esports. We need more girls in the pros. Most of us play for mixed teams as well but we love playing with us ladies ’cause it’s all about the comradery”

Well said! As stated on our Esports Central show, as well as one of my latest articles, having women’s competitions is all about increasing the involvement of women playing games, then breaking it out to mixed competitions. The ladies all played amazing and in the end Sydney Saints defeated Control Esports.

Hanging out with the awesome girls from Sydney Saints

All the games over the weekend were very exciting. In true Aussie fashion, the crowd was almost always behind the underdogs. Matches were strung out as teams made come-backs, and as always, CSGO featured the unexpected. But it all came down to the finals – FaZe Clan V Astralis. Again, the crowd was insane – shoeys, flags, signs, just so much happening! The game ended with FaZe breaking their ‘bridesmaid’ tournaments and taking down the favourites to win 3-0. Congrats to both teams and GG on a great weekend.

FaZe Clan are your IEM Sydney 2018 Champions (Photo Credit: Intel Extreme Masters)

Well, that’s a wrap from me. Check out my video featuring interviews with players, casters, managers, and fans, plus game play, freebies, and more! Can’t wait for the next one – #IEMSydney2019!


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