Age of Empires at 25: Iconic RTS series to celebrate birthday with $550,000 esports event in ancient German castle

40 stars will descend on Heidelberg Castle in late October.

Photo via Julian Schilase/Red Bull Media

The famous Age of Empires franchise is set to celebrate its 25th birthday in perfect medieval style, with Microsoft and Red Bull partnering to host the sixth ‘Red Bull Wololo’ tourney⁠—and just the second LAN event⁠ in the popular series⁠—in an ancient German fortress in Heidelberg with $550,000 up for grabs.

Age of Empires I: Definitive Edition, Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition, and revival sequel Age of Empires IV will all be involved in the immense AOE celebration.

Competitive circuit mainstays like Kai “Liereyy” Kallinger, Gan “Mr Yo” Yangfan, Darko “DauT” Dautovic, and the most decorated AOE II player ever, Ørjan “TheViper” Larsen, have already been invited to the 16-player finals after their victories in the first fifth Red Bull events. Four more will be included from tour events, including the ongoing The Resurgence tournament slated to end on May 22.

A further eight players will enter via two Red Bull qualifiers in August.

The Heidelberg Castle won’t just host Age of Empires II action either. As part of the Microsoft-backed 25th-anniversary celebrations, 16 stars will contest a major Age of Empires IV event. Eight more will contest the original AOE title.

Related: TheViper won Age of Empires 4’s first Major with a wrist injury

Red Bull wrote on May 19: “Long live the king! After an incredibly successful 2021 event circuit, we’re proud to announce that Red Bull Wololo is coming back for its sixth tournament, returning bigger and better than ever. To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Age of Empires series, we’ve partnered with Microsoft to create the biggest tournament to date. Three titles to prove yourself in, countless opportunities to watch your idols and a LAN final for the ages – are you ready?”

The tournament organizers are offering $300,000 USD for the top-placing AOE IV competitors, $200,000 for AOE II, and $50,000 for the original game.

The full Heidelberg event will run from Friday, Oct. 21 to Sunday, Oct. 30.

Photo via Julian Schilase/Red Bull Content Pool

The Red Bull Wololo series began in early 2020 and⁠—alongside the Hidden Cup and Battle for Africa events⁠—has become a guiding light for AOE II esports and managed to breathe new life into the scene long after the title’s 1999 release.

The first Wololo event, won by Mr. Yo, carried a $22,188 prize wallet.

The following three tournaments paid out $30,000 between sixteen competitive players, before tournament organizers Red Bull hoiked the pool to $100,000 in July 2021⁠—an event that saw Liereyy outlast Hera in a seven-map epic to secure his second Wololo title. The Austrian’s double marked a first for the series.

TheViper, who has been competing on the famous real-time strategy game’s pro circuit since 2010, won the most recent edition, which was also hosted in Heidelberg.

Photo via Julian Schilase/Red Bull Content Pool

With its 25th birthday, Age of Empires finally enters a hallowed group of gaming franchises that have clocked up a quarter-century in action. 107 series have made the milestone thus far, with Worms joining the pile in 2020. The Oregon Trail (49 years), Pac-Man (41 years), and Mario (40 years) dominate the standings.

Age of Empires IV arrived in Oct. 2021 to favorable reviews and ended a hefty seventeen-year wait for a fresh mainline title for Microsoft’s iconic real-time strategy franchise.

About the author
Isaac McIntyre

Aussie Managing Editor for Dot Esports. I began writing in sports at Fairfax Media in Mudgee and Newcastle, before falling in love with esports and gaming, from League of Legends to Crusader Kings, Lego: Star Wars, and Trine. Got a tip for us? Email: [email protected].