ACS has signed on as foundation partner of the Australian Esports League (AEL).
The deal will pair the two organisations together as they work towards continuing to promote esports in Australia.
The ACS partnership will see AEL move into the ACS Technology and Innovation Hub in Barangaroo, firstly as tenants in the accelerator space and eventually to use the facility as the broadcast home of AEL's University Cup.
Executive producer and co-founder of the AEL Darren Kwan said that the partnership was based on a mutual vision of strengthening the Australian ICT sector.
“We found that the two organisations shared a number of values and that our alignment was a good fit in supporting growth of Australia’s grassroots esports,” he told Information Age.
“Esports is creating jobs, particularly in the areas of systems, network admin, software development and within the games industry.
“It is supporting local talent and local investment in the ICT industry across the board.”
Founded in 2011, the AEL was first launched while esports -- which is best described as competitive video gaming -- was still in its infancy.
Kwan explains that at first there was “a lack of events supporting the demand for domestic competition from players and fans.”
Seven years on and esports athletes can find themselves getting paid more than some professional sportspeople, with gaming streaming sites like Twitch now reaching a mass audience.
BBC recently reported that organisers for the 2024 Olympics in Paris are “deep in talks” to have esports included as a demonstration sport at the games, while the 2022 Asian Games in China will include competitive video gaming in its official program.
PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) predicts that esports revenue in Australia will double to $21 million by 2022.
In 2016 AEL delivered Australia’s first esports free-to-air broadcast on SBS Viceland, which reached a combined audience of 400,000 Australians.
Kwan reflected on how far the industry has come.
“Having participated in esports for over 17 years, I have personally seen it come from a predominately online focused community activity with limited live events offered via internet cafés or LAN events to now taking over arenas and headlining in the news and major publications,” he said.
“I sense it will continue to grow, settling into a mature industry, moving from strength to strength that will see fan numbers explode and improved recognition.”
AEL now operates across Australia in high schools, universities and international qualifiers.
The AEL University Cup more than 22 universities from around Australia which have student-led esports clubs.
The teams are seeded in the preliminary rounds and play in a points-based ‘swiss format’, before the top eight teams play-off in a single-elimination bracket in the quarter then semifinals.
A live grand final features the top two teams facing off onstage as they battle for the University Cup.
The competition is streamed three nights a week.
Players can compete in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Dota 2 and Rocket League for their shot at a share in the $15,000 prize pool.