Jun 8, 2022 - Business

Raleigh lands Fortnite and Apex Legends esports tournaments

Fans celebrate while watching a video game tournament on a jumbotron.
Fans cheer during the final of the 2019 Fortnite World Cup in New York City. Photo: Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images

In the past few weeks, Raleigh has landed not one but two global esports tournaments, from industry juggernauts Epic Games and Electronic Arts.

Why it matters: It's a major coup for a city trying to put itself on the map as a video game destination.

  • In 2018, the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau elevated esports as a major priority of its recruitment strategy, said Loren Gold, executive vice president of the visitors bureau.
  • The tournaments can bring thousands of visitors and the industry is growing rapidly. Newzoo, a research firm, expects the global esports audience to reach 532 million by the end of 2022, Venture Beat reported.

What's happening: Last month, Cary-based Epic Games picked Raleigh to host its 2022 Fortnite Champion Series Invitationals.

  • Fortnite is one of the most popular games in the world, and the competition — set for Nov. 12-13 at the Raleigh Convention Center — will have a $1 million prize pool.
  • On Tuesday, Apex Legends, a battle royale game published by EA, picked PNC Arena to host its Apex Legends Global Series Year 2 Championship on July 7-10.

Gold said that he expects the two events to each attract thousands of spectators and fill hotel rooms across the city.

  • A Halo tournament in Raleigh last year brought nearly 8,000 attendees and $1.3 million in direct spending.
  • More important, in Gold's opinion, was advertising Raleigh’s name to the 10.5 million viewers on Twitch and YouTube.

Driving the news: The tournaments might not have come to Raleigh, if not for a $5 million esports incentive passed by the N.C. General Assembly last year.

  • "The grant helped push us over the finish line," Gold said. "And it shows that North Carolina and Raleigh are taking the industry seriously."
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