Ottawa video game players now have a dedicated place to come together as a community and to compete in competitive gaming tournaments at Click eSports.
Co-founder Hui Shen said she started the business in February with other members of her competitive Counter-Strike team because they saw Ottawa as lacking a place to hold large-scale video game tournaments.
“We are gamers, we [are] life-long gamers, so this is something we want to do as gamers,” Shen said. “This place is built by gamers, for gamers.”
E-sports are competitive video games matches played in front of an audience by professional gamers. Popular e-sports include Counter-Strike, Call of Duty, Overwatch and League of Legends.
While other businesses in Ottawa broadcast e-sports, Shen said Click eSports is about actually playing the games and creating a community. She said that in addition to being a tournament space, the aim of the business is to make gaming more social by having a place for people to meet each other and find new people to play with.
“I do have a lot of customers that come here by themselves,” she said. “They don’t have friends that play together but after coming here they see some other players playing the same game and say ‘hey let’s play together,’ then they become friends.”
Players can rent new game consoles like a Playstation 4, Xbox One or Nintendo Switch, or book time on one of the high-end gaming computers. Shen said they always have access to new game releases on midnight of the day they come out.
Click eSports also holds regular non-competitive fighting game tournaments on Friday nights called “Friday Fight Night” where players can compete in games like Street Fighter and Super Smash Bros. Shen said on average around 20 people attend each week and it’s a good chance for players to talk strategy or get coaching.
“Rather than playing at home by yourself, now you have some other players just like you, you guys can play together,” she said.
The gaming centre has become a base for the city’s competitive gaming community. The business is open until 2 a.m. on weekdays and 7 a.m. on weekends, which Shen said means players can game for almost as long as they want. She said they are also thinking about extending their operating hours.
“You don’t have to be a professional player to play here,” she said. “Professional players take this as their careers, [Click eSports] is more for people who come to play and enjoy the process and enjoy the playing with friends.”
Shen said she hopes that eventually Ottawa will be able to host large-scale tournaments like those in Montreal and Toronto. The communities already travel between cities for large tournaments, but they are rarely hosted in Ottawa.
“We hope that one day we can have tournaments here in Ottawa that can compete with that, because we are the capital city we want to make here an e-sports capital as well. Hopefully more professional players can come to Ottawa to join our community.”