Previously considered a hobby, esports has enjoyed a rapid ascent to become a booming global industry, with an estimated 500 million fans tuning in to watch tournaments. While many may still be unaware of its success, esports is played all over the world, and in Canada, it is big business.
Live streaming has become an attractive avenue for fans to catch the action. Recent figures suggest that the esports following via YouTube and Facebook has continued to grow at an extraordinary pace, with League of Legends remaining the most-watched game. With over 540m hours of action watched so far this year, esports has become a popular choice for betting.
In Toronto, esports is a highly competitive discipline, and it has captured the minds and hearts of the Canadian public. Here, we look at two of its best-known teams.
A professional Call of Duty team, the Toronto Ultra is a relatively new franchise, and it has played a large part in helping to put esports on the map in Canada. Owned by OverActive Media, the Ultra was formed as the successor to Splyce in 2019, and it has flourished in 2020. The team has continually finished in the top six of Call of Duty events, and it triumphed in week 13 of the 2020/21 season in Toronto as it took out the Atlanta FaZe 3-2 to take the honours.
Largely comprising overseas players, the Ultra has gone from strength to strength. Since the start of the season, it has utilized its 10-man roster to its advantage. It has proved to be rather canny at swapping players in and out of its starting line-up.
Aside from the UK representatives, Cameron McKilligan and Ben Bance, its secret weapon is American Anthony Zinni, who has become an indispensable part of the Ultra roster. In terms of earnings, Zinni has amassed over $160,000 from over 30 tournaments worldwide.
Spaniard Adrian Serrano has also become an invaluable member of the Toronto Ultra line-up, renowned as an aggressive sub-machine gunner in the Call of Duty League.
Competing in the Overwatch League, the Toronto Defiant, like the Toronto Ultra, is owned by OverActive Media, which acquired Splyce. The Defiant has a seasoned roster. Featuring an Overwatch League champion, two Overwatch World Cup silver medallists, and a player who has recorded the only Torbjorn hammer kill in World Cup history, the Defiant has an abundance of experience.
When you look more closely at the make-up of the Defiant roster, it is brimming with success even at rookie level. Its main man Adam Denton boasts three Contenders titles.
Before retiring, general manager Jaesun Won was trying to assemble the best team possible. The Defiant is still on a learning curve, and the pieces are all there. It’s now just a case of putting it all together.
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