Cincinnati Business Courier – “Cincinnati’s first-ever eSports tournament and video game conference has selected a site for its inaugural event this year. Bill Donabedian’s ESK Presents, which has founded and co-founded [music] festivals like MidPoint, Bunbury, Buckle Up, Bellwether and Brandemonium, is hosting the inaugural PiviP tournament and gaming conference at Kings Island [Amusement Park on May 18].”

The 2019 event will be a preview. It will be free to attend for anyone who purchases admission to the park on that day but will feature all of the trappings of a gaming conference.

As reported by Andy Brownfield, “The 2019 event will be a preview much like the Bunbury preview that was free to the public and featured on stage with musical acts.  That includes:

  • A collegiate Overwatch tournament as well as amateur Fortnite, League of Legends and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate tournaments
  • Keynote addresses from and meet and greets with YouTube and Twitch personalities
  • Cosplay photo opportunities
  • Exhibitors and vendors from major companies in the gaming and eSports industries.

Donabedian told me Kings Island approached him about hosting the event there and he immediately thought it would solve some of the common problems with this type of conference.

“I went to PAX (the gaming festival), and it was an amazing event, but on day two I saw people just laying down on the floor,” he said. “At PiviP, if you’ve watched a tournament and saw a speaker, you might not have anything to do for a few hours before the next event, so why not ride some roller coasters?”

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The idea was partially sparked by something common to every festival and conference: lines. When exhibitors or celebrities have a booth or table, people wait in lines for sometimes hours.

Donabedian envisions taking advantage of those lines by having them end not just with a meet and greet with a YouTube personality but also at a roller coaster. Along the way, exhibitors can set up their booths so people can experience the trade show element while they’re waiting in line.

While the 2019 event is a preview, Kings Island is already on board for 2020 and beyond, Donabedian told me. If the event catches on, he envisions exporting it to other parks owned by Cedar Fair – Kings Island’s parent company – like Cedar Point, Carowinds or Kings Dominion.

Esports is a juggernaut that has grown from the family rooms and basements of kids who grew up in the ’80s and ’90s to massive arenas where corporations sponsor teams of professional gamers. Donabedian thinks it’s only going to get bigger as people who may casually play video games realize there’s a broader community out there. They only need to be exposed to it.

“The industry is watching us,” he said. “Maybe we try something new. This event is about giving everyone the taste.”

What this could mean? eSports is huge and the amusement park and FEC industry need to be a part of what could grow to be bigger than professional sports as we know it today.  That is an amazing concept for us to fully grasp. Even today, the top eSports players earn as much as top professional athletes and entertainment stars.  It is great to see that Cedar Fair’s Kings Island is hosting this gaming and eSports festival. I will be following this event to see if there was a ‘spike’ in the redemption and video games at the Kings Island arcades.