Turkey’s growing esports community crowned by new venue
Engin Esen – ISTANBUL
Considering the country’s estimated 12 million-strong fan base of esports, even the Riot Games Esports Stage’s seating capacity of 1,000 can be deemed as relatively low.
“Surveys and statistics show that almost 30 million people in Turkey play video games. We can say that some 12 million of them consist of the younger generation with a perception of esports. Tickets for a final game at the 15,000-seating-capacity Ülker Sports Arena go sold out in four hours,” Murat Tayhan, a communication officer at the Association Esports Clubs, told Hürriyet Daily News.
“The figures are incredible and keep increasing. Awareness is also on the rise,” he added.
Istanbul’s big three sports clubs, Fenerbahçe, Galatasaray and Beşiktaş, embraced the trend quite well, according to Tayhan, who is also among founders of the Galakticos esports team. Anatolian sports clubs Bursaspor and Trabzonspor have been following suit.
“Turkey is among the pioneering countries in the world in institutionalizing esports. Turkey’s League of Legends Champions League has been pointed as one of the best seven in the world,” he said.
“Investment team Supermassive is among the best in Europe. Royal Bandits won the world title in playing Hearthstone game. Space Soldiers, one of the best CS:GO teams in the world, represent Turkey successfully,” he added.
One of the well-known Turkish esport players, Sergen Çelik, also known as Broken Blade, was transferred to the United States. Local players sign contracts for wages up to 700,000 Turkish Liras ($130,000). Esports economic volume is running towards $1 billion worldwide.
The human resources departments of some Turkish companies also pay attention to esports, seeking a beneficiary to enhance discipline, motivation and team spirit among the employees.
One of the biggest banks in Turkey has been organizing an esports tournament open to all of its personnel.
“This is a first and it presents a new market. As the new generation grows up and takes part in every aspect of life video games will be indispensable,” Tayhan said.
Watching the esports finals in huge football stadiums would not be a surprise, he adds.
Beşiktaş’s Vodafone Park Arena already houses a gaming area. There are tens of gaming houses in shopping malls and modern building estates of Istanbul.
Riot Games Esports Stage, located inside the Watergarden shopping mall, can be a milestone in the transformation of esports in Turkey.
Erdinç İyikul, head of publishing at Riot Games Turkey, said that they plan to attract esports fans seven days a week giving them an opportunity to socialize face-to-face.
“We have been building a museum as well. Visitors will be able to explore the journey of LoL in esports,” he recently told daily Hürriyet.