OPINION: Canada needs to make the right steps on Esports

by | Mar 4, 2021 | Opinion

Canadian Esports needs more infrastructure to support the scene to sustain the proposed arena in Toronto.

Canada is not well-represented when it comes to Esports. Indeed, only in the last few years has bigger Esports organizations looked at the country as a valid Esports contender.

OverActive Media has been leading the charge in investing in Canada, specifically Toronto. The company started in Spain with two teams under the name Mad Lions. However, OverActive Media has been branding its new teams with Toronto on them. One of them being Overwatch League’s Toronto Defiant and the second is Call of Duty League’s Toronto Ultra.

However let’s not overlook Vancouver. Overwatch League’s Vancouver Titans is also owned by the same parent group that owns the Vancouver Canucks. The Canucks’ hosted the Dota 2 World Championship in 2018, a multi-million-dollar tournament, which remains the largest Esports tournament ever played in Canada.

Toronto’s new proposed 7,000-seat building will cost between $500 to $800 million. Although this can be the start of Canada finally having a stake in the Esports world, this can’t be where the investment ends.

But the next investment doesn’t cost nearly as much as the huge arena.

All popular sports with million-dollar investments are built up by lesser, but sustainable choices. For example, Ontario has one of the biggest and dependable hockey farm systems in the world. Another example is Orangeville and other GTA basketball farm systems that are able to make hometown heroes in the NBA.

For a sport or organization to thrive, it needs to support the bottom line. The Toronto Ultra seem to understand the importance of this as they teamed up to do multiple events with local colleges and universities. But even with Call of Duty and Overwatch having more of an impact on its current community, that still leaves out many others.

League of Legends, Counter-Strike, Dota 2 and many more games aren’t represented well by Canadian organizations even though there has been notable Canadian representation in the teams.

Most top Esports organizations are American and Canadians who do have talent find themselves travelling south if they want to compete at a higher level.

And now, let’s hope that the new building slated for Exhibition Place is the first step in making Toronto — and possibly Canada — more influential on the Esports scene. The decisions made after this will define the Canadian Esports scene.