Global eSports series, the Intel Extreme Masters, will be opening its 12th season in Sydney this coming May, with a prize pool of $260,000, a record-breaking amount for an Australian event. The multinational circuit will be held at the Qudos Bank Arena and will feature some of the best Counter Strike: Global Offensive players in the world.

The pooling stages of the CS:GO tournament will be streamed online before the event, with the semi-finals taking place Saturday, 6th May and the grand final on Sunday.

Started in 2006 by Electronic Sports League (ESL), the competition is the longest running global pro gaming tour in the world. In the past, the series has primarily featured StarCraft II, League of Legends and CS:GO tournaments across the globe.

Earlier this month, Fox Sports confirmed the winners at last year’s IEM world championships, the formidable Danish team, Astralis will be competing. Since the end of last year, Astralis have won three of their last four majors, netting over $800,000 in prize money.

The Renegades. Photo from Liquipedia.

The Australian team, the Renegades, were also invited to compete, along with other teams such as Australia’s Tainted Minds and Legacy competing in the closed qualifiers. Australia’s fairly-small but growing global eSports means that the Renegades don’t get to experience home games as much as certain fellow competitors, with their last home game taking place back in late 2015.

Recently, Renegades team manager Chris Orfanellis told Fox Sports how a positive home audience can contribute to player success, saying “whenever we play events in Asia, North America or Europe we can hear the crowd cheering for the opponents and I think it gives them an edge. It will be a great to experience that and hopefully put us over the edge to take some scalps.”

The previous season of IEM, held in Katowice, Poland, saw a huge following on Twitch alone, with the average online viewership of each season reaching around 40 million gamers. It bodes well for Australia’s relatively green eSports scene, seeing how IEM Sydney is shaping up to be the biggest eSports event Australia has seen.
Supplementary game tournaments and matches will be held at the venue’s Community Stage, with various prizes on offer. The games include Smite, Rocket League, League of Legends with a free-play area dedicated to casual games of Paladins and Smite Tactics.

The Qudos Bank Arena, in all its splendour.

On top of the live competition, the event will also be exhibiting a bunch of the latest gaming tech on behalf of Intel, as well as player signings. Tickets are still available through Ticketek, with weekend access starting at $119.

With a strong focus on keeping up to date with the latest in eSports news, Gamers Classified will be closely following the event as the exciting series draws nearer.

Interning Video Game Journalist & Social Media Manager at Gamers Classified. Student currently pursuing a double bachelor's in Journalism & Arts at UOW. Creative arts dabbler, namely in photography, short films/documentaries and video essays. Dedicated gamer. Hails from Wollongong, NSW.