Hundreds of Fans Will Gather In a Manhattan Movie Theater to Watch TSM vs CLG
Every week, hundreds of thousands of LCS fans tune in from all over the world to watch their favorite teams play League of Legends via online streams. Unfortunately, despite the growing popularity of esports and the LCS in particular, it can be tough to find like-minded folks out in the wild who want to get together to watch a game. League of Legends’ origin on personal computer screens has translated into a culture of solitary streaming of competitive games. However, things are starting to change as esports gets bigger, with help from dedicated efforts like those of Community Gaming New York (AKA CGNY), who are hosting a public screening of the NA LCS Spring Split Finals between TSM and CLG.
Over e-mail, CGNY founder Chris Kovalik told me that he sees CGNY as an organization “for those who want gaming to be a bigger and better part of their lives.” CGNY primarily hosts “pop-up” LAN gaming events at different venues around New York, bringing gamers together to play League of Legends and other games in person. The volunteer-driven organization started hosting viewing parties for esports events based on interest within the group, with a focus on League of Legends. Their largest event so far was a movie theater screening of the 2015 World Championship, which drew 400 people to watch games starting at four in the morning.
Kovalik expects the crowd to be a little lighter for this weekend’s regional Finals. Even so, “premium” tickets that come bundled with a t-shirt and cupcake have already sold out. The shirt features canceled champion Ao Shin watching the games from home along with the audience, and the cupcakes are decorated to look like poros. Kovalik sees the premium ticket bundles, which split a share of the proceeds with contributing designers (and bakers), as directly in line with CGNY’s mission: “The whole purpose for CGNY is to enable people to have gaming be a bigger and better part of their lives. For some, this means having an economic benefit associated with their passion. We couldn’t be more proud to support grassroots gaming entrepreneurs and artists like Meowth, who designed our T-Shirts, and PhoenixCrypt who is baking and decorating the Poro Cupcakes.”
The viewing this weekend will take place at the 42nd Street AMC Theater in Times Square. CGNY organizers are hoping to build their event attendance to the point that they can fill multiple theaters, but for now they’ll have to settle for one giant screening room in the middle of Manhattan. Kovalik ceaselessly credits the efforts of CGNY’s two dozen volunteers for the success of the group’s events; “I try to keep the boat facing in the right direction, but don’t have a lot of time for the day-to-day.” When not organizing events with CGNY, Kovalik works full-time managing investments for Virgin, and is a founding investor in esports-focused gaming studio Wavedash Games.
Those interested in remaining tickets can find them on Eventbrite, and details about the event can be found on the CGNY website or in Chris Kovalik’s informational Reddit post. For those of us too far away to join the party in New York, Kovalik is insistent that he wants to help interested fans host similar events of their own: “Reach out if you want to host events like this in your area. We’re happy to share our secrets!”
It’s sure to be an exciting series this weekend, as the classic American League of Legends match-up TSM vs CLG will decide the NA LCS Spring Split Champions and determine which team gets an invitation to MSI. I’m sure it will be all the more exciting being surrounded by hundreds of fans cheering on their favorite teams. For his part, Kovalik will be cheering for TSM, “WITH Doublelift!!”
For more NA LCS news, including when and where to watch the big games, keep up with Blog of Legends!