Can Age of Empires become an esports hit?

100 Thieves

100 Thieves, the organization created by ex-Call of Duty professional player Matt "Nadeshot" Haag and now co-owned with big names including music artist Drake, managed to raise $35 million in Series B funding. The funding was lead by Artist Capital Management, and the funds will allow 100 Thieves to create a centralized HQ for all teams and staff to operate from. It's worth bearing in mind 100 Thieves is only three years old.

The organization has come a long way after starting with a single team in the popular MOBA League of Legends. Since that first season, the staff team has expanded into apparel creation and high-quality production, as well as purchasing new spots in different game leagues. This new 5,000 square-foot training facility and headquarters located in Los Angeles will enable all teams to come together to train under a single roof.

Not only does Nadeshot want this new facility to allow for fans to come and check out trophies and meet the players, but also foster future developments in new titles. It's about time the 100 Thieves found a place to truly call home.

Gear-ing up for the new Gears 5 Pro League

The Coalition Studios has announced what will be happening with the Gears esports scene. The developer has partnered up with PGL to create a new Pro League for the upcoming 2019 - 2020 season of Gears 5. The announcement came as the first Gears 5 tournament was held in Atlanta where eight top teams competed against one another in the ELEAGUE Gears Summer Series for a prize pool of $200,000.

Xbox. PC. Xbox Game Pass. Everyone's invited.

Starting September 10 across Xbox One and Windows 10 (with Xbox Game Pass), players from all over the world will be able to sign up and compete in regional ladders for weekly cash prizes. Top players and teams from North America, Central America, Europe, Asia Pacific, and South America, will also be rewarded with all expenses paid for trips to participate in major international events.

Organizers will provide amateur teams the ability to make it into the professional circuit via online qualification, while the worst performing Pro League teams from each division will have to fight it out for their placements.

Age of Empires to become an esports hit?

There's a game that's 20 years old and is slowly making quite the comeback. You've probably heard of Age of Empires II, the strategy sequel to Microsoft's excellent first release. But did you know it's still played by millions of people today, seeing it frequently listed within Steam's top 50 for concurrent players, and there are frequent tournaments held throughout the year, some even backed by Microsoft? Well, I didn't either.

The Age of Empires competitive scene is almost 20 years old.

Unofficial tournaments held by professional players and streamers that draw in thousands of viewers for the live matches. Microsoft even threw some money into the pot for the Escape Champions League in 2018 with a prize pool of $60,000. For a PC game that doesn't get a lot of attention, that's not bad going.

It's a slow and steady build-up, but even prominent esports games such as League of Legends have only really taken off in recent years. There's still time and potential for Microsoft's 20-year-old PC game. The development studio clearly understands the demand with the upcoming release of Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition. This could be just what the scene needs to take things further with enhanced multiplayer support.

I'm not suggesting Age of Empires II will become a huge success in the esports world, but it would be incredible to see this vintage title draw in yet more viewers for live tournaments. Then there's — of course — Age of Empires IV on the way...

Upcoming live events

  • ESPN Apex Legends — starting July 11, watch on Twitch.
  • League of Legends Teamfight Tactics — July 17 - 18, watch on Twitch.
  • Farming Simulator League — July 27 - 28, watch on Twitch.

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Rich Edmonds
Senior Editor, PC Build

Rich Edmonds was formerly a Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.