ESL, the world’s largest esports company and Intel, the technology leader in esports, announced a multi-year partnership with the United Center and the Wintrust Arena as the new home of Intel® Extreme Masters (IEM) in North America. IEM is the longest-running global pro gaming circuit in the world, and this year, the North America event moves from Oakland to Chicago. The first installment of IEM Chicago will be held at the Wintrust Arena in 2018 and move to the United Center, home of the professional basketball team the Chicago Bulls, in 2019 and 2020.
With Chicago among the largest cities in the United States and its experience in hosting large-scale sports and entertainment events, it is not only a fitting new location but also an important stop in the global tour of the circuit, in addition to IEM Katowice, IEM Sydney and IEM Shanghai. IEM Chicago 2018 will feature the world’s best 16 teams in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) who are battling over a lion’s share of the $250,000 USD prize pool in front of a live audience on November 10-11, 2018.
“We are very happy to have found a brand-new long-term home for Intel Extreme Masters in North America,” said Michal Blicharz, Vice President Pro Gaming at ESL. “Chicago, with its strong worldwide reputation and sports history is a perfect fit for what we are aiming to build with IEM in the years to come.”
Out of the 16 participating teams, 10 will be invited directly to the group stages of the event, which will kick off on November 6-9. The remaining 6 spots will be filled with the winners of qualifiers in Europe, Asia and the Americas. The top four teams who fought their way through the group stages will get the chance to show off their skills at the playoffs in front of a live audience. IEM Chicago 2018 will be also part of the Intel® Grand Slam, which will award a $1,000,000 USD bonus prize for the first team to win four of the last ten major CS:GO events organized by ESL and DreamHack.
“Chicago is known for fierce competition, innovative thinking and world-class events, so bringing Intel Extreme Masters to the city was an easy choice and a testament to the global appeal of esports. There are more than 1.3 billion PC gamers on the planet and that number just keeps growing, making this one of the most exciting times we’ve seen in the PC industry,” said John Bonini, Vice President of the VR, Gaming and Esports Group at Intel Corporation.
IEM Chicago 2018 marks the 73rd global IEM event and its fifth installment as a standalone arena event in North America, celebrating its debut in the Bay Area with IEM San Jose in 2014 and returning one year later in 2015. In 2016 and 2017, IEM moved to Oakland where it attracted over 6,500 fans on each of the main event days and several million online.
“The United Center has been home to some of the greatest sporting events and moments in history,” said Joe Myhra, Sr. Vice President – Operations & Administration, United Center. “We are very excited to bring a premier event like Intel Extreme Masters to our expanding campus in both 2019 and 2020. We are honored to be part of this rapidly growing industry and look forward to hosting fans from all over the world as we look to establish the United Center as a destination for live esports events”
”We are thrilled to be the site of the first Intel Extreme Masters Chicago,” said Lori T. Healey, CEO of the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, owner of the Wintrust Arena. “Chicago is an innovative, visionary city, so it is only natural that we welcome esports to our city.”
Ticket sales for IEM Chicago start on Friday, August 10 at 3pm CST and will be priced between $24 for Day Tickets to $139 for Weekend Premium Tickets. Further information on each of the available ticket types can be found here. To stay up to date on IEM Season 13, follow IEM on Twitter and Facebook and visit the official website.
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(Image) Source: Press release