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Wacken Open Air 2018 to feature esports arena

The world's largest heavy metal music gathering has joined forces with the Electronic Sports League to create gaming area at this years festival

By Molly Long on 19 Jul 2018

Wacken Open Air 2018 will feature a world-first esports arena

Wacken's esports arena will mark the first time a festival has teamed up with a gaming organisation

image © Wacken Open Air: Facebook

Wacken Open Air, the world’s largest gathering for heavy metal music, will this year welcome the addition of an esports arena to its sold-out event, making it the first ever music festival to do so. The festival has joined forces with the Electronic Sports League (ESL) to create the ESL Arena, which will open on 1 August.

The 1,800 square-metre esports village will invite festivalgoers to compete in the daily amateur tournaments of popular games including League of Legends and Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds. Beyond amateurs, professional teams, bands and artists will also take part in exhibition matches, set to the soundtrack of heavy metal music.

The music industry is becoming increasingly involved in the world of gaming and esports. Just this week (16 July), Universal Music Canada announced its mutually beneficial deal with Luminosity Gaming, one of the world’s largest esports organisations. Similarly, 2017 saw Universal Music Group partner with the UK’s Insomnia Gaming Festival.

“Like many games, heavy metal creates fantasy worlds.”

ICS, the promoters behind Wacken Open Air, say this project is taking advantage of the world’s rising interest in gaming. Speaking to Pollstar, ICS CEO Holger Hübner, comments: “Like many games, heavy metal creates fantasy worlds.

“[We are] proud to be pioneering the world’s first esports theme experience at a music festival, so we are very glad to have ESL as a most capable partner that is setting the international standard in esports.”

Boasting relationships with the likes of French media conglomerate Vivendi and venue and promotions giant AEG, the ESL has slowly built up a host of high-profile partnerships in the music industry. On top of this, the organisation claims to have reached more than 400 million viewers in 2017 across its live events.


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