The dust has settled on the Melbourne Esports Open (MEO), a successful event that saw over 12,000 attendees across the two days. MEO hosted two of the largest esports tournaments in Australia, with the Overwatch Contenders finals held on Saturday and the Oceanic Pro League (OPL) finals held on Sunday. The Overwatch Contenders finals ended in a win for Sydney Drop Bears, who beat out Dark Sided in a 4-1 Victory. The OPL finals displayed the heated rivalry between Chiefs Esports Club and the Dire Wolves, a series that went to four games with the Dire Wolves hoisting the trophy, and securing themselves a trip to the League of Legends Worlds tournament play-ins.
Below, Re:Cover Esports authors Josh and Lem reflect on the event, and provide some insight into areas they believe can be improved for future esports events held in Australia, as well as next year’s MEO.
What was the most memorable moment for you at this year’s MEO?
Josh: The highlight for me had to be my OPL team the Dire Wolves winning the finals and advancing to the worlds play in stage. The confetti and celebration after the final nexus exploded was surreal. I also really enjoyed the Overwatch Contenders semi-final between Dark Sided and Order – Map 2 and 4 (Kings Row and Rialto) were incredibly tense and massively entertaining.
Lem: The most memorable moment for me would have to be the game between Order and Dark Sided (Overwatch Contenders semi-final). Though my team, Order, didn’t make it to the eventual grand final, it was easily the most tense and exciting game of the day!
What are your thoughts on the additional activities/tournaments hosted at MEO?
Josh: Obviously the “big-ticket” events were held inside the Rod Laver Arena, but there were also smaller tournaments hosted in the Margaret Court arena next door. I watched the Super Smash Bros Melee and Sm4sh tournaments in between the OPL finals games – they were fantastic. My only complaint (other than the incredibly cold temperature inside the arena) was that there was no live commentary for each tournament. The commentary that I heard was for a 3v3 Overwatch tournament happening nearby. Hopefully MEO can work to improve this in the future.
There was also a JB-HiFi sponsored area which had consoles and PCs ready for anyone to jump on and play. I tried my hand at a number of games, including the upcoming Soul Calibur VI (very excited) and the recently released Spider Man. The highlight for me was trying out a virtual reality platformer. The world seemed to generate around me, and the visuals and graphics are much improved from the VR I had experienced last year. I am really excited about the future of VR and the games that come with it!
Lem: As Josh mentioned, the main events resided at Rod Laver, but the organisers did a great job of giving us variety in events. Personally, the Overwatch Contenders kept me busy for the whole of Saturday, but my other mates had opportunities to catch other events such as Counter Strike and Smash Bros, while some got to participate in some games at the JB-HiFi area. There was a little bit of everything depending on the individual’s preference.
What are your thoughts on the venue?
Josh: In terms of size, yes. I think the venue was able to cater for everyone who attended, with spare seats available during both major tournaments. Additionally, the tournaments held in the Margaret Court Arena had very little viewership at the event itself – there was a lot of empty seats and unused space. The ground staff also performed admirably, guiding people to the correct entrances with a smile on their face.
However, the Rod Laver Arena was not well signed. Once inside, it was unclear where general admission tickets could sit. There were no physical barriers preventing access to the reserved seats, nor were there and signs or markings indicating that the seats were in fact reserved. This lead to a lot of people accidentally sitting in the wrong area and receiving requesst from security to leave that area.
The JB-HiFi area showed promise, but wasn’t large enough. In between games, the area would see a large influx of people hoping to check out some games in their downtime. At its peak, the line stretching out the door continued for about 50 metres. I would like to see more areas for people to relax and play games with friends in the future – potentially some couches set up with Super Smash Brothers, Halo, Mario Party and other social classics.
Lem: It was exciting to see that the event was held at Rod Laver and Margaret Court as it showed promise for the amount of people who signed up. Getting there and being part of the crowd definitely cemented that thought.
However, there were some struggles with lack of signage and instruction. My mates and I had to ask a staff about entering the arena (since we bought our tickets beforehand). When we were inside, it seemed like there were guidelines around gates being allocated to general passes and VIP passes, but none of the signs indicated that. We only found out as we presented our tickets at the gates. This made us all a little confused at the start — especially when the event was starting and everyone was rushing to get a seat, but staff were helpful as always.
What are some areas you hope to see improved for next year’s MEO?
Josh: Other than the aforementioned improvements to the JB-HiFi area, I would like to see more esports related activities that aren’t just tournaments. It would be cool if there were sessions where speakers would talk about topics like how an effective esports organization operates, why a player chose to go professional and their journey. While MEO is a great first step for Australian esports, there is still a lot of work to be done.
In terms of the wider esports scene in Australia, I want to see more sponsors involved, and much more aggressive marketing campaigns. While the Victorian Government and JB-HiFi are nothing to laugh at, there is a unique opportunity for established corporate partners to participate. Professional services could partner with MEO and have a kiosk/tent set up at the venue. As esports continues to grow, interest from professional services will increase, as there is ample opportunity for consulting and auditing. As we talk about in a number of our articles (like Policy Pandemonium), esports organisations and tournament hosts are still immature in many of their business practices; it would be wise for professional services to seize this opportunity early. Furthermore, interested esports fans have an opportunity to ask about potential professional service careers, and team owners about partnerships and assistance.
Lem: Though I mentioned that the variety of games were good, I think it can be stepped up a notch with the variety of the type of events that were offered. They did well with providing exciting tournaments to watch and games that people could participate in. This catered well to the dedicated and passionate gamer. However, I felt like there was also an opportunity for education that was missed.
Various companies and traditional sports team (as mentioned in our articles) have held esport seminars and events in the past that focused on different aspects of esports and video games – think analytics or game development for the university student who is looking to enter the esports industry or players’ mental health for the parent who came along with their kids to this event. Just like Josh mentioned, this could be an opportunity for companies to network with potential customers and future employees as well.