The Melbourne Esports Open was unlike anything most fans in Australia had seen. Many have been to IEM Sydney and seen the hype around CS:GO. But few have had the chance to fly overseas to see multiple teams, multiple games, and multiple tournaments. Luckily for Melbourians, they didn’t have to go anywhere.
This certainly didn’t stop people from flying in from all over the country. Some even took the journey from overseas. Esports fans from all corners converged onto Rod Laver Arena and made it our own. Featuring two massive stages — Rod Laver and Margaret Court — an outdoor showcase, and a dedicated gaming zone, it was every gamer’s dream… and more.
The Melbourne Esports Open catered to the hungry appetite of gamers. As fans walked through the gates of Rod Laver, they were greeted with friendly faces, music, and of course games. The Red Bull DJ blasted tunes from the iconic RB truck. Red Bull’s partnership with Omen saw the large Omen truck in attendance. Fans from PAX Australia would have remembered the big truck showcasing multiple computers complete with Overwatch.
Boost Mobile made sure attendees knew they were heavily involved in esports. One of the first things fans spotted heading into Melbourne Park was the Boost Mobile truck and Scott Pye’s Boost racing car. Boost Mobile launched the Supercars esports series over the course of the weekend. Read all about that here.
Another big mainstream brand got behind esports for this Open. The official partner for MEO, JB Hi-Fi delivered with their gaming zone. Players could try out some of the latest games like Elder Scrolls, the new Spyro remastered edition, Forza Motorsport 7, Fortnite, and a range of other games. Games like Spider-Man were on show to try pre-release. This gave the Melbourne Esports Open a PAX-like feel.
Tech enthusiasts had the chance to score some great bargains from the multitude of pop-up stalls in the gaming zone. Many peripheral and hardware brands were on show for trying and purchasing.
Indie developers and rising stars featured at MEO too. Outside the main stage, Dark Shadow Studios’s Drone Legion was on show with some prizes to boot. Jam Gaming hosted local and national streamers, trading card games featured, and a pod-racer-like game enticed both the fans and pros.
Gaming zones weren’t just set up merely for trying games. Avid gamers and keen competitors came to Melbourne Esports Open for a challenge. Or at least to challenge their friends. A mix of friendly competitions and cash prizes were on offer. Fans could compete against other players, their friends, local talent, and some celebrities. Games included Pokemon Trading Card Game, Super Smash Bros., Minecraft, Rocket League, Overwatch, and plenty more.
Without a doubt, the highlight was Fortnite. Lines for Fortnite ran out the doors. The free-play area, gaming zone, and dedicated Fortnite stage were completely packed. A big draw card for the crowds included the Fortnite dance competition. Dance emotes are a unique feature in Fortnite. Melbourne Esports Open brought the D-floor to the physical world stage. Check out some of the sweet moves people were able to pull off.
But it’s not all just fun and games. Two major official tournaments featured at the Melbourne Esports Open. Saturday saw the Overwatch Contenders finals played on the main stage in front of an engaged audience. Featuring local stage and desk talent, both the semi-finals and grand final were well received.
The Overwatch Contenders could be seen as a pathway into the Overwatch League. They are run all over the world for aspiring gamers. The Overwatch Contenders Australia finals sees the best teams in Australia competing. Kanga Esports and Sydney Dropbears competed in semi-final one with SDB breezing through to the final. Semi-final two saw Order and Dark Sided play off. Dark Sided took the win to secure a place in the grand final.
Sydney Dropbears were the crowd favourites and took out a well-fought grand final against Dark Sided. SBD have the season 2 title to cement their mark on the Overwatch community.
Overwatch wasn’t the only big tournament to hit the main stage. Sunday saw the finals of the Oceanic Pro League (OPL). The Direwolves defeated Chiefs in the 2018 Split 2 Grand Final. After taking the win, the Direwolves will go on to represent Oceania at Worlds later this year. Worlds will be held in South Korea with the best teams from around the world. Catch up on the results from other regions with the finals of the NA LCS here.
The fighting game community had some of their tournaments at MEO too. Check out the full write-up on those here.
After an incredible Melbourne Esports Open, everyone is excited to find out what happens next. Does this put Melbourne on par with Sydney for esports? Does the Melbourne Esports Open move Australia up on the global esports map? Will there be more games next year? Bigger crowds? Let us know in the comments below. If you were in Australia at the Melbourne Esports Open, tweet us your photos.
Michelle is a Content Producer in the realms of innovation and technology. Known as the “Hackathon Queen” you’ll often find her on stage MC’ing or speaking on a range of topics from artificial intelligence, to business, community engagement, the future of work, and esports. With a background in both science and arts, Michelle writes extensively on a range of topics including innovation, startups, corporate culture, esports, business development, and more. She has a passion for gaming and combines this with her experience in a range of industries. Michelle brings a unique insight into esports innovation and draws many parallels between the physical world of sport, and the digital world of esports.