An Internet café in downtown Toronto is trying to become Ontario’s first eSports bar.
Michael Russell, owner of the Net Effect café, has started a campaign raising money to transform his venue into the Battle Bar where people can watch and play video games, consume food and alcohol and have a good time.
For Russell the inspiration came from Berlin, Germany after his friends came back from Meltdown,a successful eSports bar chain based in Europe.
“We have been doing tournaments here for a long time and every night that we go and do a tournament everyone leaves and goes to a bar,” Russell said. “[At Meltdown] People come in, sit around with their friends, drink and play team games. Why has no one done this here?”
Russell has a potential investor willing to help launch the bar if there is enough community support. The campaign on the website Indiegogo has the goal of raising $25,000 which would cover licensing fees for the bar in 30 days.
The goal is steep but Jason Fonceca, a frequent patron at Net Effect said he believes it can happen. “Toronto has a super, super active gaming community,” Fonceca said. “They will always find the time and the money to game.”
Fonceca points to the popularity of League of Legends in Toronto as an example that the Battle Bar’s goal can be reached. The popular online game had the finals of its world championships on Oct.4th and in Toronto the event was broadcasted live in two sold-out movie theatres. “The tickets were $25 a head, and they filled two theatres,” Fonceca said. “That is $25,000 right there.”
The Toronto eSports community is growing and an e sports bar would cater to them in the same way sports bars do to their fans.
“I don’t like going to a bar and sitting and watching football, it’s not my thing, but if somebody had a place where I could go and watch a DOTA 2 tournament I’d probably go,” Russell said.
For Fonceca one of the biggest appeals of an e sports bar is finding people with similar interests. “I’m excited about the deeper things, meeting different people who game.” Fonceca said. “How else am I going to meet a lawyer who plays League of Legends? That’s only going to happen at the Toronto battle bar. This stuff only happens if there is a place for it.”
So far $1,080 has been raised towards funding the Battle Bar. If the campaign is successful Russell said it could open in the beginning of 2014.