IEM and ESL announce North American circuit move to Chicago

Intel Extreme Masters (IEM) and ESL have announced a multi-year partnership with the United Center and the Wintrust Arena as the new headquarters of IEM events in North America.

The Intel Extreme Master series is one of the most well-known and longest-running professional esports circuits in the world with massive event structures for CS:GO holding tournaments in Sydney and Shanghai and will hold the first Valve Major of 2019 in Katowice. Previously the North American circuit has been held in Oakland, California but with this new partnership will be moved to Chicago, Illinois for at least the next three years. 

John Bonini, Vice President of the VR, Gaming and Esports Group at Intel Corporation said: “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.”

Michal Blicharz, Vice President Pro Gaming at ESL commented: “We are very happy to have found a brand-new long-term home for Intel Extreme Masters in North America. 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.”

The inaugural IEM Chicago 2018 will be held at Wintrust Arena in November and will then be moved to the United Center in 2019 and 2020. 

The United Center is a multi-purpose event centre that is primarily the home of the Chicago Bulls and the Chicago Blackhawks and seats around 20,000. Wintrust Arena is also a multi-purpose venue slightly smaller in size with a capacity of around 10,000 and houses the Chicago SKY. 

Joe Myhra, Sr. Vice President of Operations & Administration at the United Center said: “The United Center has been home to some of the greatest sporting events and moments in history. We are very excited to bring a premier event like Intel Extreme Masters to our expanding campus in both 2019 and 2020.  We are honoured 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.”

Esports Insider says: While Chicago is a major metropolitan city in the United States it’s not necessarily a “booming” industry of esports and gaming, which makes this partnership even more interesting. Both event centres have a rich history and experience holding entertainment events but we’ll have to wait and see if the area is better for an esports event compared to Oakland in the past.