After more than a year-and-a-half of hype, California’s Esports Arena has finally opened.
The arena has already hosted two major LANs with a combined $125,000 in prize money. But for its 2016 Heroes of the Storm event, the company has resorted to crowdfunding to see it through.
If the Kickstarter, which is currently at $1,200, doesn’t reach $5,000 by Jan. 8, the event will not take place.
The event has had something of a troubled life so far, having originally been scheduled for October. Murloc Geniuses were invited to the original tournament, but due to their sponsorless status they launched a Kickstarter of their own to fund their trip. The event was quietly delayed, and the relaunched edition did not initially feature Murloc Geniuses as an invite.
COGnitive Gaming and Kappa Wolves were also previously invited to the event only to be left out of the new event. According to Esports Arena, this was down to a change of focus.
“When we regrouped and started planning for this new tournament we wanted to make it community focused,” an Esports Arena spokesperson told the Daily Dot. “Which to us meant that it would have qualifiers and have an open entry so that the whole community had a chance at coming to play in this tournament.”
After community backlash, the tournament has now been extended to 12 teams, with the three originally invited teams joining Cloud9 and Tempo Storm. If the crowdfunder reaches $10,000, Dignitas and NaVi will also join the event.
The question remains: Why crowdfunding? According to Esports Arena, it’s the same thing we heard from Murloc Geniuses when it tried to raise money online. Sponsors are unwilling to back a “largely untested” esports scene like Heroes.
“We are paying for a lot of things,” their spokesperson said. “Staffing, venue fees, casters, and our sponsors are helping to put out the $10,000 base prize pool. But we want to make sure that the community is behind this and this is something that they want and are excited for.
“Also, only a few sponsors are willing to put a great deal of money behind a largely untested title like Heroes of the Storm.”
Image via Esports Arena