Waterloo region is looking into what it will take to become a possible esport hub and tournament destination in the near future.

Explore Waterloo Region (EWR) has recently partnered with gaming marketing company, Subnation, to evaluate the region’s current infrastructure that could support esport growth.

Allister Scorgie, director of sport hosting for EWR, said the region’s tech sector and post-secondary schools’ involvement with esports are some of reasons why the region is interested in exploring the idea.

The University of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier University and Conestoga College all have their own competitive esport leagues. 

“We’ve seen interest from across the region from the municipalities, from the universities and college. We’ve already engaged a lot of groups,” he said.

“We saw an opportunity just by nature of what esports offers, but we also saw Waterloo region as a potential, comfortable ecosystem to develop esports.”

Conduct market research first

The first of four phases will be to conduct market research with the help of Subnation to gauge the region’s esport readiness, said Scorgie.

“We’re not experts in gaming or esports,” he said. “We want to make sure that if we’re going to be hosting events or building esport lounges or launching intramural leagues that we’re doing it with an educated background.”

Ed Tomasi, co-founder and managing director of Subnation, said they’re working with EWR to get know the region’s assets and community better.

“That entails understating the DNA of the market, like what makes [Waterloo region] great, what makes it desirable as a destination,” Tomasi said.

“We’re interviewing stakeholders from the economic development commissions, to sport alliances, to arena managers, to university athletic departments. We’re really getting a sense of what that DNA is.”

Tomasi said they will also be assessing what current venues and facilities could host esport tournaments in the future and what improvements will be needed for the region to grow its esport culture.

Scorgie said once the evaluation is complete, the next step will be to come up with a strategy to market Waterloo region as an esport destination for event organizers, leagues and production companies.