WePlay Esports is building an esports arena at VDNG. Here’s how it looks

WePlay Esports is preparing to open its esports arena in Kyiv named WePlay Esports Arena Kyiv. It is assumed that the first tournament will be held there in November 2020. The AIN.UA editor was the earliest to visit the arena and share what it will be like.

WePlay Esports Arena Kyiv took the seventh pavilion at VDNG. WePlay Esports has held its offline tournaments at VDNG for several years but occupied another nearby pavilion. It is better suited for events with a broad audience. The arena in Pavilion 7 is for online tournaments: there is not much space for spectators, but it has everything for online broadcasts.

Photo here and after: Olexandr Kozachenko for AIN.UA.

The object’s total area is more than 1000 sq. m and the Arena itself (stands, stage, and commentators’ panel) is 450 sq. m. The stands can accommodate 160 spectators. Also, there are separate areas for players, commentators, analysts, and staff.

WePlay Esports invested several million dollars in the arena’s construction, and the pavilion itself has a long-term rental. The main goal is the constant generation of content in all directions: the arena can be transformed for different esports disciplines and much more.

At the Arena, we also met Yura Lazebnikov, managing partner of TECHIIA holding and WePlay Esports esports media holding, who spoke in more detail about WePlay Esports Arena Kyiv.

At what stage is the construction?

All the complex construction work has now been completed. We have started the final part, which is filling it with equipment. I think that we need a month and a half for this, and the arena will be ready to show its first tournaments.

Yura Lazebnikov

Have you already planned the first tournament to take place here?

Yes, there is even a whole series. WePlay Esports is preparing a calendar for 2021, and I hope even for 2022. We’re planning to bring players from all over the world to the first large-scale international tournament unless some next “Armageddon” happens. It will be in November.

In general, our goal for WePlay Esports Kyiv Arena is to provide the content every week, every weekend, every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday — almost non-stop. Both Tier-1 and Tier-2 stages, and sometimes semi-professional tournaments. It’s not designed to be empty, but to generate crazy amounts of content all the time.

Is the arena multifunctional?

Yes, it was built as a transforming arena that can broadcast any discipline online.

Will you only broadcast your own events, or are you ready to collaborate with others? For example, what if another studio wants to host its event, or “Rozetka” organizes a Dota 2 tournament?

In fact, we are ready for such offers if they don’t change our action plan or our calendar radically. And if we don’t have to postpone our big tournaments for this. We are ready because these are still our tournaments: if WePlay hosts the event at WePlay Esports Arena Kyiv, then, of course, we will be happy to integrate sponsors as often and as much as possible. But it works for our brand, our ecosystem, and infrastructure as well.

Collaboration with other studios is also quite possible.

Did WePlay buy a pavilion, or is it a long-term rental?

Long term rental.

How much have you invested in the project?

These are millions of dollars. The difficulty is that under the terms of the rental, the building’s appearance must be preserved: it cannot be reconstructed. We had to build a pavilion inside the pavilion to keep the historical building: we don’t rely on supporting structures. We made the frame inside. It is easily disassembled and portable.

You previously held tournaments in a different part of the pavilion. Why didn’t you make an arena there?

That part of the pavilion is still available to us. It accommodates many spectators: there are more than 1000 seats, and we can use it at any time. As I said earlier, the goal of our arena is to hold tournaments almost every weekend. And its focus is primarily online. Therefore, it makes no sense to use the space that offers seats for spectators. We decided to take a smaller part of the pavilion to fill it with light, sound, and equipment. It has 160 seats, which is enough for weekly content. For LANs, finals, or majors, we may well move to another part of the pavilion.

You are building an arena in Los Angeles. At what stage is it?

It’s under construction. I think that the announcement and launch will also be in late autumn or winter. The arenas will be ready almost simultaneously, but I think that the Ukrainian arena, at first, will have to take on an additional burden due to logistics because it will be a little easier to bring people to Ukraine. The United States has stricter travel restrictions. But I hope that our viewers will see the American arena on the air in late autumn or winter.

And you should also have started construction in Asia?

We plan to launch an Arena in Brazil, in São Paulo. The agreement of land and areas is at the final stage. Negotiations are now underway on two arenas in China.

Alexander Kokhanovsky also spoke about the construction of the arena. Is this your competitor, or “when there is no arena yet – it’s nothing to talk about”?

I don’t think he is a competitor at the moment. In general, I believe that the industry is growing so rapidly (the annual growth rate is 24%) that no company on its own can provide and fill such a market capacity with high-quality content and high-quality arenas. And I believe that the more entrepreneurs now try to attract investment and build as many infrastructure facilities as possible, the greater it is, and the more profit it brings to everyone else. Because the industry is becoming more respected and larger, it is approaching the old classic sports in terms of the amount of money, finances, and investments.

And it’s silly to call everyone competitors when there is just crazy room for work and enormous prospects for growth. In terms of its capitalization — this is about a billion dollars — the entire esports industry is still relatively small compared to large old industries, especially football. Therefore, I think it’s very cool. The more money, arenas, teams, and events that come in, the more we will all earn, and the more high-quality content we can do thanks to this money and the industry’s growth as a whole.