Italian Esports Attracts Crowds at 15th Century Church Turned Venue
A 15th century Itailan church turned esports venue. Image credit: Circuito Tormenta / ProGaming By looking at the packed crowd of a semi-professional League of Legends tournament in Lucca, Italy, one might assume esports is now an integral part of Italy’s culture. In the Tuscan town, a 15th century church is now an esports arena where fans cheer for an influencer tournament waiting for the Circuito Tormenta finals, a grassroots tournament organised by ProGaming. All seating is occupied and the cheering echoes through the isles of the church. Take a step outside the venue, and you’ll find Italy’s biggest comic book festival, Lucca Comics and Games — a decades old event that turns the mediaeval town into a sprawling heaven for geeks, nerds and esports fans. It was a similar story at last year’s Milan Games Week, Italy’s biggest gaming-themed event, which had not one but two esports stages operated by two different companies with overlapping competitions in different titles. During the three days of the fair, it was almost impossible to find any seating to watch some of Italy’s top teams battle it out for their respective national titles. But when the same final of the League of Legends PG Nationals tournament (who’s top seed qualifies for the EMEA Masters) was held on its own, in a club near Milan’s centre, the venue was half full, and not even remotely as lively or loud. Italy’s esports scene struggles to be an attractive force on its own — yet when fans are already at a venue for another reason, esports attracts them like a magnet.
Italian Esports: Overcoming Regulation and Growth Challenges
Italian esports and the broader gaming industry are beginning to gain momentum, overcoming a series of obstacles that have historically inhibited growth. Prominent Italian esports journalist and analyst, Francesco Lombardo, explained that the COVID-19 pandemic gave a boost to esports awareness domestically, and competitive gaming is now being discussed in the Italian parliament. Government measures are being discussed to economically support the gaming sector in Italy, and there are early talks to expand monetary investment from the state into esports. However, much of this remains speculative, and Italian esports continue to face challenges related to funding and sponsorship.
Challenges Facing Italian Esports
- Lack of funds for esports events
- Geographic distance between fans and events
- High travel costs for fans to attend major esports events
One of the primary challenges facing Italian esports is the lack of financial resources for hosting events, resulting in barriers to accessibility for fans. Many sponsors are hesitant to allocate funds due to the unstable future of the industry, resulting in limited investment in Italian esports. This lack of funding forces event organisers to either host their event during a larger convention or scale it down to fit within a constrained budget. In either case, the geographic distance between fans and events creates additional challenges, as venues are typically located in major cities such as Milan or Rome, requiring fans residing outside of these areas to incur high travel expenses to attend esports events.
Overcoming Barriers and Building a Sustainable Esports Scene
While the challenges facing Italian esports are significant, there are opportunities to develop a more sustainable esports scene in Italy. One approach involves bundling multiple competitions together to justify the expense of the trip for fans, thus encouraging greater attendance and support for esports events. Additionally, integrating esports events within larger conventions and providing additional activities and unique experiences for attendees can incentivize greater fan engagement and attendance at Italian esports events. Community-driven initiatives and heightened awareness of competitive gaming in Italy are also contributing to the growth and development of the esports scene.
Opportunities for Growth and Expansion in Italian Esports
- Increased collaboration with international esports organizations
- Expanded financial support from the Italian government
- Strengthened community engagement and fan outreach
Looking ahead, the growth of Italian esports holds potential for increased collaboration with international esports organizations and the expansion of financial support from the Italian government. Strengthening community engagement and fan outreach will be essential in fostering a more inclusive and vibrant esports scene in Italy, establishing the nation as a prominent player in the European esports market. The Italian esports community has demonstrated a strong desire to share their passion for competitive gaming in person, and with strategic initiatives and support, there is promising potential for sustained growth and development of Italian esports on a national and international scale.
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