Newspaper article The Canadian Press

NHL Opens Door to Esports, Kicks off 2018 NHL Gaming World Championship

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

NHL Opens Door to Esports, Kicks off 2018 NHL Gaming World Championship

Article excerpt

NHL unveils its Gaming World Championship

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TORONTO - The NHL has unveiled its first foray into esports -- the 2018 NHL Gaming World Championship.

The US$100,000 tournament will feature separate online qualifying events in Canada, the U.S. and Europe with each region sending two finalists to the 2018 NHL Gaming Final set for June 19 in Las Vegas.

The winner will claim the championship trophy, collect a cash prize of $50,000 and take part in the 2018 NHL Awards show.

The NHL sees the virtual hockey tournament as just its opening esports salvo, with member teams likely to develop their own esports opportunities down the line. But in organizing the inaugural world championship, the aim is to allow as many people to get involved as possible.

"The more people that participate, the more we can understand what the structure and strategy should be for us moving forward," Keith Wachtel, the NHL's executive vice-president and chief revenue officer, said in an interview.

"So we truly don't know what this will look like in a few years."

The NHL has partnered with EA Sports, which develops its hit NHL video game franchise in suburban Vancouver.

"They know this space better than anyone," said Wachtel.

Sponsors have already got on board. Global partners for the gaming championship include Bridgestone and Honda. Dunkin' Donuts and GEICO are involved in the U.S., with PepsiCo Beverages Canada and Scotiabank in Canada.

The NHL is using its star power to promote the tournament with players like Brad Marchand, Tyler Seguin, Connor Hellebuyck, Victor Hedman and Nathan MacKinnon.

The tournament slogan is: "You think you're good at 'EA Sports NHL 18'? Prove it."

Gamers just need to register and then showcase their skills in single-elimination online qualifier tournaments over four consecutive weekends starting March 24. The qualifiers are open to players residing in Canada, the U.S. and European Union.

The qualifiers will send eight players to each of the regional finals: May 6 in Stockholm, May 11 in Toronto and May 20 in Stamford, Conn. The regional finals, which will be in the form of a double-elimination, in-person tournament, will be hosted by the league's TV partners in those areas. …

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