On November 20, the annual Esports Awards were held in Arlington, Texas, and the CEO of the event, Michael Ashford, said they would be held in the Lone Star State from now on.
According to WFAA, the international awards have been around since 2016, starting in London.
The show is held to honor those in the competitive gaming industry, with categories ranging from PC player of the year to collegiate program of the year. Each year the nominees come from around the world, and fans vote for the winners.
Esports Awards CEO told WFAA that the event continued to grow, even during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s a really good time for the industry. And I think a lot of people who put the work in early are starting to see the rewards, which is really encouraging for everyone,” he said. “In our first year, we had 7,000 votes. Then in the year following, we had 700,000. During the pandemic, we hit our biggest total in 2020 with 5.1 million votes. And we were like, there’s no way you top it… now we sit here going into a show that’s had 10 million people vote on the winners. It’s astonishing to me that it’s all got there.”
In 2021, esports became a billion-dollar industry.
While the 2020 event was held online, Ashford told WFAA that organizers and fans were ready for Saturday’s in-person ceremony.
“There’s nothing else like being able to put [winners] on the biggest stage in the biggest format in the biggest black-tie event in esports,” he said.
The first three events were held in London before expanding globally. Ashford spoke about the decision to permanently move the Esports Awards to North Texas.
“And at the end of 2018, we realized we had this global platform, it resonated outside of the UK and was something that hit the whole world. We also knew we had a very strong fanbase in North America and we were looking for what the next big thing could be for us,” he said. “Sometimes things line up for the right reasons at the right time… I fell in love very quickly [with Esports Stadium Arlington].”
“We actually won the first-ever esports team of the year award at the first-ever Esports Awards. We are extremely honored every year we get nominated for being [the] organization of the year,” said Rufail. “I know we’re up there in the running to win this one because we’ve had a lot of success across all of our games this year. We’re showing that again with another big weekend. This past weekend, Wizzrobe, our [Super Smash Bros.] player, won Smash Melee at Mainstage out in California. And our Rocket League team finished second in the NA regional championship.”
According to Rufail, the stadium will give North Texas an international presence in the esports industry.