Indy PopCon is about to enter its third year, and it seems to be doing nothing but growing. This year the convention is expanding its eSports portion significantly. Sporting a 20,000 sq ft pavilion, it will host tournaments, live events, and more. Indy PopCon 2016 will take place June 17th – 19th.
The finals of three large tournaments will take place at Indy PopCon this year, the games being League of Legends, Hearthstone, and both Super Smash Bros Melee and Smash 4. As of now, sign ups for the Smash tournaments are just underway, with the news that Xander Mobus, the Smash Bros announcer, will be there to introduce the final founds of the Smash tournament. eBash, an Indianapolis based eSports company that hosts tournaments and other events, has partnered with AllMid to make the tournament happen, with a prize pool of somewhere between $5,000 – $10,000.
Details on the League of Legends and Hearthstone tournament are still forthcoming.
We had the opportunity to speak to eBash's President, Zack Johnson, about gaming at conventions and Indy PopCon in particular:
I love the direction Indy PopCon is going with their focus on eSports and video gaming in general. The typical comic convention these days just has a 'gaming' room set-up for older games and allows attendees to join for free. I think that is the way of the past. While attendees appreciate being able to sit down and play offline games for hours while they are killing time there are no memories being made or events promoted to the outside world, the experience is completely forgettable. And almost none of them offer anything on the PC and just focus on console gaming and single player games. eBash is pushing these conventions to go ALL-IN and embrace the future of video gaming and eSports. Indy PopCon is taking this to an entirely different level like no convention has dared to do before and I think it is going to open a lot of eyes.
As Zack mentions, attendees will also be able to enter their own tournaments and play game with one another. Some of the featured games are Rocket League, Smash Bros, SMITE, Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, and a lot more—all through the night if you would like at the 24-hour venue. Convention goers will be able to sign up for a time slot to enter a tournament, and the number of participants for each tournament will vary depending on the interest in the game. These tournaments will also be hosted and facilitated by eBash.
The stage will have seating for 1000 fans and also be used for more than just the tournaments, as it will host panels, celebrity game matches with both eSports and general games, and other live shows. Anyone attending the convention will have access to the pavilion.
We spoke to Shawn Smith, the Marketing Director of Indy PopCon, and he had this to say regarding why Indy PopCon is going so heavily into eSports:
We got involved with eSports because PopCon supports all forms of pop culture, and competitive gaming is on the rise. We were one of the first multi-fandom shows to embrace YouTube as a legitimate, popular form of entertainment, and last year we were one of the first to support eSports by hosting the Halo Championship Series. In short, we listen to our fans and our fans are young, vocal, and into the next wave of pop culture. And right now, they're telling us eSports is legit, and we believe them! It's a ton of fun.
What do you think of Indy PopCon's push into eSports? Is this something you would like to see at more conventions?