Australasia’s biggest esports event returned to Sydney’s Qudos Bank Arena over the weekend for another spectacular Counterstrike: Global Offensive tournament.
Intel Extreme Masters is a global esports competition organised by ESL (Electronic Sport League) and sponsored by Intel. Now in its thirteenth season, this is the second time that Sydney has hosted a heat of the competition. Sixteen teams from all over the world, from Brazil to China, all played for a slice of a US$250,000 prize pool with first place earning US$100,000.
The arena was packed with thousands of fans, many sporting the shirts of their favourite esports teams. As well as the esports fans in attendance, the matches have been watched (and re-watched) by thousands of fans around the word via streaming services such as Twitch.
But the IEM Sydney event is not just about the tournament. Intel also had a huge presence with their Intel Experience Arena. Hundreds of desktop and laptop PC were showing off some of the latest games running on Intel’s cutting-edge hardware. Visitors could try their hands at a lap around Australia’s famous Mount Panorama circuit in virtual reality, sitting in a force feedback cockpit. The likes of PUBG and Fortnite were also available for gamers to get their battle royal fix.
Intel were keen to show off their eighth-generation Core i9 CPUs and their Intel Optane memory technology, which was powering many of the gaming experiences. Also on show were many Intel-based IEM certified PC builds available from local PC system builders.
The Intel Channel Partner Zone featured many Australian PC retailers and a tournament stage hosting events over the weekend. Local PC retailer, MSY, were offering visitors who could build a PC in an hour the opportunity to take the completed machine home for half the retail cost. Gamers could also check out the latest peripherals from the likes of SteelSeries and Razer. Gamers with crusty old PCs could get their beige boxes souped up at the Pimp my PC booth.
The Expo Hall accommodated hardware vendors such as Gigabyte, Netgear and MSI. At the Shopping Express- sponsored “Drone of Thrones”, a drone-flying competition, winners could win an Intel-powered DJI drones. Throughout the weekend the hall also hosted signing events from all the esports teams in attendance.
The Community Hall was home to events and tournaments all weekend, with the likes of Redbull giving fans the opportunity to go 1-on-1 in CS:GO with their favourite esports players. The ESL Community Stage featured an array of Australian esports, including the ESL Women’s Sydney Open.
To frenzied crowds the sixteen teams were whittled down to two, with the Danish team, Astralis, and the European arm of US FaZe Clan battling out for the US$100,000 prize money. Is was late Sunday night, after a gruelling three-day competition, that FaZe Clan took the trophy in a 3-0 win against Astralis.
With such a great crowd in attendance the competition is all but sure to return to Sydney, again, next year.