How do you get kids excited in sport these days? The answer, apparently, is Fortnite.
A release from LetsPlay.Live, the Australian and New Zealand esports group that acquired the long-running Cybergamer website at the start of this year, has announced that the firm will be holding a Fortnite event as part of the NRL Grand Finals this year.
It'll run more or less how you'd expect these tournaments to. There's a string of online qualifiers before the grand finals, where Fortnite players have to signup and compete through the LPL platform. The Royale Event itself will be held in the ANZ Stadium precinct during the NRL Grand Finals, where "NRL and gaming personalities" will compete in a live stage match.
Alongside that, Sydney's Martin Place will have a Fortnite add-on to an NRL pop-up activation from October 2 to October 4. It's effectively a mechanism to appeal to younger audiences who, unsurprisingly, are spending more and more time with video games than traditional sports.
The LPL sign-up page notes that the open qualifiers will be solo play only, with the top 40 players from qualifiers on September 21 and 22 advancing to the offline finals at ANZ Stadium, which will be broadcast into the stadium as part of the pre-finals entertainment.
"In addition, the top 80 players (excluding the top 5) across the Open Solos Qualifier weekend will receive a custom code allowing them to showcase their skills at the Grand Finals match online on Sunday Oct 6, as well as prizing thanks to the NRL to be confirmed," the page says.
It's the kind of move that the esports space has been talking about for a while, ever since the rise of Fortnite got the attention of mainstream media and sports executives. Australian sports has had a close affiliation with esports over the last few years, with multiple AFL teams (Adelaide Crows, Essendon Bombers) investing or acquiring their own esports teams, with the Bombers saying at the time that gamers shared the exact same passion as their existing fanbase.
Earlier this year the Adelaide Crows sent shockwaves amongst the sporting and gaming scenes by announcing the acquisition of an Australian esports team, Legacy Esports, for an undisclosed six figure sum. It's the first major move by any Australian sporting organisation into the world of esports. But why now, why Legacy, and what's the plan going forward? To get some answers, I had a chat with Nigel Smart, the chief operating officer of the Crows.
"There is a rich and diverse community ecosystem in esports and this is our opportunity to be culturally relevant to the millennial audience and engage a new fan base," Justin Rodski, Essendon's chief marketing officer, said at the time.