Dell’s Ben Jackson discusses Gfinity and the future of esports in Australia
Alienware and Dell are the power behind the Gfinity Elite Series launching this year in Australia. I had the chance to speak with Dell ANZ’s General Manager Ban Jackson about the new esports league, Dell’s involvement and the future of esports in Australia.
It’s clear that Jackson is passionate about gaming, esports and hardware, especially when it comes to high-end gaming machines.
He tells me that “[Alienware] makes incredibly high-performance gaming gear that will allow Australia’s best players to push their game to the next level.” And pushing the game to the next level is really the intention of the Gfinity Elite Series.
“Dell Gaming and Alienware have long recognised the importance of esports for the Australian gaming community.
“When we heard Gfinity Esports Australia was looking to bring its popular format to Australia, we felt it was the perfect opportunity. The Gfinity Esports Australia provides an opportunity for the Australian gaming community to compete on a professional level.
“Australia has some great esports gamers, and we wanted to help provide them with an opportunity to demonstrate their skills on a world stage because we believe they should have the same opportunities as any other gamer in any other country.”
Gfinity esports Australia
For the uninitiated, the Gfinity Elite Series is a professional, city-based esports competition launching in Australia in 2018. Dell and Alienware aren’t the only partners either. Hoyts is a major partner and will broadcast games live to select theatres.
Games will also take place at HOYTS Entertainment Quarter in Moore Park. Professional esports players will compete in matches of Counter
Strike Global Offensive, Rocket League and Street Fighter V and there will be a regular roster, season, finals and championships.
Being a city-based competition, I wondered if the Overwatch League had had an influence on the Gfinity Elite Series. Jackson assures me that’s not the case.
The city-based structure of the Gfinity Elite Series stems more from traditional sports than the Overwatch League. We’re starting to see many esports leagues begin to take the city-based franchise approach because it adds an extra level of connection between players and fans.
When you watch the Gfinity Elite Series this year, you will be supporting teams that are representing your local city. This is how most traditional sports models work.
Presenting the Gfinity Elite Series in the same way as traditional sports is an important step in legitimising esports in the eyes of a broader audience. Gamers already accept esports as a legitimate enterprise, but getting non-gaming fans to engage is a tougher challenge.
Cheer on your city
It’s one that Dell and Alienware are prepared to tackle Jackson says. “The esports community has not seen an event like the Gfinity Elite Series before, that’s why Alienware and Dell Gaming jumped to support it.”
Jackson claims that the point of difference for the Gfinity Elite Series is the multiple games included in the competition and the way that it can engage a wider group of fans.
“The Gfinity Elite Series is going to be exciting for the whole family. There’s something for shooter fans, fighting game fans, and fans of cars playing soccer. The Gfinity Elite Series isn’t restricting fans by only focusing on one game.”
Even if non-gamers aren’t ready to jump onboard with esports just yet, the world of traditional sports sees the potential in the medium. Jackson illustrates this by explaining how the Adelaide Crows were the first AFL club to purchase a professional esports team. Now, the Essendon Bombers has followed suit.
Australia is a little slower than the rest of the world when it comes to esports though. Jackson elaborates;
We recently launched a new training facility for the leading worldwide esports organisation, Team Liquid.
Their ownership group are massive fans of the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Dodgers baseball teams.
The Miami Heat NBA franchise has even acquired a stake in esports organisation Misfits, assisting in managerial duties for the brand.
The Future of esports
With such keen interest in esports both locally and globally, I wanted to know where Jackson thought the Gfinity Elite Series would be in the next few years. He obviously believes strongly that the competition will only grow and get bigger.
“It’s not hard to imagine the state of the league in a few years. Gfinity Esports Australia is starting with six teams playing from one physical location this year, so I hope as fans experience this first season and grow to love the format.”
So far, only two teams have been announced; Melbourne Avant and Sydney Chiefs. The four remaining teams will be announced shortly, though Jackson hopes to see even more than the original six in coming years.
“We’ll start to see more teams representing more cities, and more physical locations where matches will be played. We could be looking at a longer home and away season in the next few years.”
Get your dream job
Being a professional esports player sounds like a dream job for many young gamers around the world. Jackson assures me that the Gfinity Elite Series has a clear path for those wanting to have a go.
“One of the things we love about the Gfinity Elite Series is that there is a clear path for players to enter the league. The Gfinity Challenger Series, which was sponsored by Dell Gaming, concluded in February and acted as a pathway for all gamers to begin their esports journey.”
The Challenger series saw players competing for points to help them climb the leaderboard. The top players for each game were then invited to join the draft. Being in the draft gives those players a chance to become a member of one of the six city-based teams and fulfil their dream of being a professional esports player.
The Gfinity Elite Series promises to be an incredible competition that brings legitimacy and professionalism to esports in Australia that has not yet been seen on this level.
Ben Jackson, Dell and Alienware are obviously incredibly excited at the prospect of the series and it’s hard not to share in that excitement when discussing it.
Big thanks to Ben Jackson for spending some time with me and speaking to PowerUp!
Gfinity Elite Series players will use the latest 8th Generation Intel Core i7 processors and powerful NVIDIA GeForce GTX graphics in our Aurora R7 desktops. The 25” Alienware monitors feature AMD FreeSync technology which minimises graphic distortions such as tearing.