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A pairing of giants: Esports World Cup and the Sphere

Updated April 16, 2024 - 9:21 am

Bugha is big. Believe it. If you’re a skeptic, check the Sphere.

Bugha (legal name of Kyle Giersdorf) is 21 years old, and a top player in the Esports game Fortnite. Bugha is a winner of two Esports PC Gamer of the Year awards and the Esports PC Rookie of the Year honor. He is also a contender in the new category of Esports Visual Promotion MVP (which we have just made up).

The image of Bugha is among those glowing on the Sphere, in advance of the upcoming Esports World Cup scheduled for July in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Esports World Cup is the largest such tournament ever, offering a $60 million prize pool. A 20-tournament with players from around the world will compete in 19 Esports games, leading to the lucrative finale.

The display at the Sphere premiered Monday at sunset and runs Tuesday, returning Thursday and Sunday through April 25.

The Esports images featured on the Sphere are not as fancy as the July 4 fireworks show, lava lamp or (on Monday) the seemingly baked emoji anticipating the Phish series opening Friday. But Esports is entering a new dimension with its first international World Cup.

Las Vegas, and the Sphere, are worthy marketing partners.

“I mean, if you’re the Esports World Cup is something that has never been done before. We’re venturing into an unknown space, and being super-innovative,” Esports World Cup Officer Fabian Scheuermann said Monday in an online chat from Germany. “I think that is what represents the Sphere very well, right? It’s super new. Everyone around the world know knows what it is, and how big it is. It’s just this huge, innovative format.”

Las Vegas is a player in the Esports culture. The sport is staged at HyperX Arena at Luxor (formerly LAX nightclub). UNLV has a team, Rebel Gaming.

Internationally, Esports will soon eclipse $200 billion in value (according to industry figures) and is becoming the world’s top entertainment sector with more than three billion players across the globe. Once a hobby in homes, is now a sport that packs arenas and entertains millions of fans.

“There are a lot of parallels between what we represent, and what the Sphere is representing,” Scheuermann said. “It’s very simple messaging. We are known around the world.”

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on X, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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