How Montreal Is Embracing Playing Video Games Professionally

Canada’s second-largest city hasn’t always been a trailblazing presence in North American Esports, however, that could be well set to change. Montreal’s competitive gaming space has seen huge investment across the board as Quebec prepares to introduce itself as one of the major hubs for the industry. From the collegiate level to prestigious international events, embracing gamer-orientated spaces has suddenly become big business for The 514.

Photo by Florian Olivo on Unsplash

Montreal has always been a city that has embraced the rise of video gaming as a modern entertainment phenomenon. Titanic names in the industry like Bethesda, Ubisoft and Electronic Arts (EA) all have offices in Canada’s second city. Despite this, the competitive world of Esports was a part of the industry that has historically held less of a presence. Thankfully, due to some major investments in facilities and venues have ensured that this looks set to change in the coming years. Here’s exactly how Montreal is embracing the Esports revolution.

What Is Esports?

Before we kick off, it’s worth sparing a few words on what constitutes the term ‘Esports’. What is Esports? How does it differ from regular ol’ gaming? Is it one big fad?

‘Esports’ is an industry umbrella term used to describe the collection of communities established to support playing video games professionally. Across the world, games such as League of Legends, Counter-Strike, Fortnite and Overwatch are played at tournaments jam-packed full of passionate fans and prize pools that can range into the tens of millions.

Broadcasters and sponsors have helped inflate the value of these tournaments and widen their appeal, and players now have the ability to earn lucrative salaries touring the world and playing their chosen titles. As the industry has grown, more facilities and roles ranging from nutritionists, scouts to analysts have opened up. Much like real-world sports Canadians adore, betting on Esports at Canadian bookmakers such as Unikrn has even become a popular pursuit for the biggest events in the calendar.

The Esports industry was valued at over $1.39 billion in 2022 and is projected to rise by over 16% by 2030.

Esports And Montreal

The most significant Esports titles are games that have been supported by developers for a long period of time, sometimes ranging up to over a decade in the case of League of Legends. The developers in Montreal never especially embraced this approach, pumping out annual releases. One exception to this rule is Ubisoft’s Rainbow Six Siege, which still boasts a healthy competitive scene and in which Montreal hosts its Six Invitational tournament, an event that comes with a prize purse of $3 million.

However, through building from the ground up, it is hoped that Montreal Esports could be set to welcome a whole new generation of competitive gamers.

Montreal’s investment in its collegiate scene is one of the shining examples of helping to showcase how a career in the Esports world can be forged. Multiple universities now house state-of-the-art renovated facilities that are able to host events and, with the majority being within walking distance of one another, have allowed a healthy competitive community to begin to thrive.

And the effects of this have already seen Montreal collegiate sides begin to take on North American sides outside the borders of the city. For instance, Concordia University now fields a League of Legends team in the NA-based CSL Esports League, a six-week-long tournament with a $10,000 prize pool.

The Montreal and Canadian Esports Academy is also extending programmes to high schoolers in an effort to showcase the potential of competitive video games, and how they can foster a healthy, balanced life. These programmes not only dive into the ins and outs of the industry, giving them ample opportunities to hone their skills and provide pathways in the process but also teach students about how gaming can be a good release of energy, provide a sense of community and enable social skills through meeting up and competing.

The effects have already shown positive responses, with students reportedly more motivated to attend school and showing improvements in their energy and reaction levels.

An Exciting Future

Montreal was left somewhat isolated in the wake of the pandemic, with some of its biggest Esport LAN events being moved to locations overseas. However, the city has seen an incredible comeback in the years since and has begun to lay the groundwork for an exciting future in the industry through investments in state-of-the-art facilities and an expansive collegiate scene.

Canadian pro players such as Russell ‘Twistzz’ van Dulken have shown that the country knows how to pump out talent and, by supporting the next generations with the means and attitudes to succeed, we’re sure to see more of Montreal represented at the biggest events across the world.