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- After three years in Sydney, the Australian leg of the Intel Extreme Masters tour will move to Melbourne.
- IEM Melbourne will take place as the headline event of the Melbourne Esports Open, which enters its third year in 2020.
- Melbourne Esports Open was previously headlined by the regional finals of League of Legends Oceanic Pro League and the Australian Overwatch Contenders League.
ESL has announced that Australia’s Intel Extreme Masters event, held in Sydney over the past three years, will move to Melbourne in 2020. The event, previously held in May, will also now move to August to become the headline event of the Melbourne Esports Open.
The move is a significant loss for Sydney esports fans, with few other notable events on the city’s calendar. Melbourne, the capital of the Australian state of Victoria, has been actively working to become known as Australia’s home for gaming and esports.
Speaking to The Esports Observer on the sidelines of the AO Summer Smash tournament in Melbourne, Josh Inman, ESL Australia operations manager, said Sydney had been a great location, and ESL itself is based there, but the pull of Melbourne was “undeniable.”
“I’d go so far as to say it has become the heart of Australian esports,” said Inman. “The support not only from partners but also from Visit Victoria [the state tourism agency] and the Victorian government is helping to bring the Intel Extreme Masters to the Melbourne Esports Open which they were already putting support behind. It’s big that we get that support from government bodies and that they recognize this as a huge movement that they should support as well.”
According to Martin Pakula, Victorian Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events, more than half of Australia’s digital games companies are based in Melbourne.
“So the local jobs story is just as compelling as the on-screen action,” said Pakula in a statement. “We host major events of all shapes and colors in Victoria and it’s fantastic that we can be a leader in esports.”
The Melbourne Esports Open, produced by ESL in conjunction with live events company TEG Live, will enter its third year in 2020, taking place across three separate stadiums to create a festival of esports events in the Melbourne Park precinct.
It has been home to the finals of the League of Legends Oceanic Pro League and the Australian Overwatch Contenders finals, as well as hosting pro league events for Rainbow 6 Siege. It has also hosted Starcraft II and fighting game community competitions, and the national finals for Meta High School Esports. At this stage only IEM is confirmed for MEO 2020, with no other finals or events officially announced.
The arrival of IEM Melbourne will give MEO its first Counter-Strike: Global Offensive event, and the first competition to see international teams take to the stage in Rod Laver Arena, best known as the center court for the Australian Open tennis.
“Australians have always generated atmospheres that could not be matched by anything else,” said ESL vice president pro gaming, Michel Blicharz, in a media release. “Coming back for 2020 was a top priority, and the Melbourne Esports Open was a natural match. It will open Intel Extreme Masters to a broader audience and provide CS:GO fans a richer event experience.”
The announcement comes following a summer of speculation after IEM’s three-year agreement to take place in Sydney came to an end in 2019. On Feb. 4, ESL Australia teased via social media that IEM would no longer be taking place in Sydney.
In past years, IEM in Sydney also hosted tournaments for Starcraft II and a mid-year Overwatch Contenders final, as well as a women’s tournament for CS:GO.
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