Sophie Austin chats with Josh Freinberger about all things eSports and how their gaming hub, Gomaz vs Pedro, is just the start of pro-gaming in Newcastle.
When you think of the word ‘athlete’, it’s hard not to picture a varsity league baseball star, a burly footy player, or even Usain Bolt tearing up the track.
But the whole world of sports has been turned upside down thanks to the rising popularity of eSports. eSports, or electronic sports, is the class of sport that involves competitive video gaming between professional players.
These pro-gamers aren’t to be taken lightly either. In 2016, League of Legends was recognised and registered by Australia University Sport’s Unigame’ as a national sport. In the same season, the Oceanic Pro League championship was hosted in Brisbane, bringing hundreds of fans from screens to the Sunshine Coast.
This is just LoL, a big fish in an even bigger pond. The world of professional gaming is an ocean of move-combos, mouse clicking and meta strategies.
Take it from Josh Freinberger, owner of Newcastle’s hub for eSports and social gaming, Gomaz vs Pedro. Between rounds of Super Smash Brothers and hosting the popular tournament, Josh spoke to us about the emerging field of eSports.
“Esports is going to be the next biggest form of entertainment going forward, especially with Twitch and things like it,” he said. “It’s just exploding.”
And they’re ready for it. The business, based in Tighes Hill, is practically a gamer’s heaven-on-earth. They currently have twenty-four PCs and counting, Nintendo Wii Us, original Wiis, Nintendo 64s and one of the strongest NBN internet connections in Newcastle. They run weekly competitions and tournaments, but also welcome anyone wanting to give gaming a go.
“We want to create the network for people to take eSports to the next level, both building the community so they can interact with each other and finding the best people to play with,” Josh said.
“There aren’t a lot of eSport competitions [in Newcastle], a gamer typically doesn’t have a lot of money to get to other tournaments. We’re looking to support these people and to take their passion further.”
In the past, people might have had a hard time taking the title of “professional gamer” seriously. Parents may have frowned upon their children’s screen time, or kicked them off the computer in the middle of a Counter-Strike game.
But through the likes of Australian pro-gamers and communities such as Gomaz vs Pedro, positivity is spreading faster than Sonic with a speed boost. With tournaments come camaraderie, friendship, socialisation and new challenges, all from the safety of a screen.
Josh agrees, saying eSports is definitely less likely to leave your kids with sprained ankles and broken noses. “If I was a parent I’d be quite happy for my kid to be playing eSports as opposed to Rugby League,” he said. “There’s no risk of physical injury or concussions.”
Anyone with a few fingers and an enthusiasm for gaming can start – whether they’re aiming for professional leagues, or just for some good ol’ escapism. Gomaz vs Pedro is always ready for new players, too, and say the best thing to do is to give it a go.
“The easiest thing is just to come down and check out the venue,” Josh said. “There’s always someone here to give a tour, always someone here to play some games with.”
“Coming down for a tournament is best too, so you can see how the community interacts with each other. Just play some games, and you’ll find something you’re really passionate about.”
Whether it’s blue-shelling a Bowser in Mario Kart or delivering the payload in Overwatch, eSports is here and it’s got us on its hit list. It’s game on, Newcastle!
Photo courtesy of Gomaz vs Pedro Facebook Page.