Esports has taken the world by storm, becoming a cultural phenomenon and a lucrative industry in many countries.
While Australia may be recognised as the face of the Oceania region in esports, there remains a sense of untapped potential in the land down under. I wanted to explore the history, achievements, and challenges faced by the Australian esports scene, shedding light on the efforts to propel it to greater heights.
A Rich History
Australia has been no stranger to esports tournaments, with a consistent presence since the early 2000s. The country has hosted prestigious events, including annual matches for ESL's flagship Intel Extreme Masters CS:GO series. However, beyond the realm of first-person shooters like CS:GO, Australia's esports scene has struggled to gain international prominence.
International Success Stories
Australia has produced notable talent that has made waves on the international stage. Players like Damien 'kpii' Chok and Anathan 'ana' Pham have earned their place in esports history. Anathan 'ana' Pham, in particular, is one of the highest-earning esports players. In CS:GO, Renegades' Australian roster enjoyed international success in the 2010s, showcasing the country's potential in various esports titles.
Recent achievements, such as the victory of the Apex Legends ALGS 2022 by Rhys 'Zer0' Perry, Noyan 'Genburten' Ozkose, and Rick 'Sharky' Wirth, highlight the growing talent pool in Australia. Rocket League teams from the region have made significant strides in the RLCS, and Australia boasts a roster of talented broadcast personalities.
Australia's domestic esports organisations, including Chiefs Esports Club, Greyhound Gaming, Pentanet, and Mindfreak, have made strides, but they have primarily found success within their borders. While they may be local powerhouses, breaking into the global esports scene has proven challenging.
Sydney is home to the headquarters of GAMURS Group, a significant esports media network that owns Dot Esports and other gaming media properties. This presence reflects the growing interest and investment in the esports industry within Australia.
Challenges and Opportunities
Despite the rich history and growing talent pool, Australia faces several challenges in fully capitalising on its esports potential. One significant hurdle is the lack of recognition at the government and corporate levels. Unlike neighbouring New Zealand, where esports is recognised, Australia's government has yet to grant esports the same status as traditional sports.
Efforts for Recognition
The Australian Esports League partnered with the government's money management resource in 2022 to promote a high school initiative, taking a step toward formal recognition. The Australian Esports Association (AESA), a member of the International Esports Federation (IeSF), envisions esports being formally recognized as an activity or sport in Australia.
New Zealand has taken a more proactive approach, with institutions like Queensland University of Technology (QUT) offering esports degrees. While Australia has followed suit to some extent, it has yet to make it a nationally concerted effort. Red Bull's new venue at the University of Technology Sydney, designed for practice, streaming, and competition, offers a glimpse of the potential educational and career opportunities in the esports industry.
Australia's esports scene is rich in history and potential. With talented players, dedicated organizations, and a growing interest in the industry, the country is poised for success. However, to fully unlock its esports potential, Australia needs greater recognition from the government and corporations. As the Oceania Esports Development Federation takes shape and initiatives like the AESA's vision for formal recognition gain traction, the future of Australian esports is promising. The land down under may yet emerge as a global esports powerhouse, capitalizing on the untapped potential that lies within its borders.