WSOP Changes the Game with UMG Esports Collaboration

May 11th, 2018 | by Kaycee James

The World Series of Poker (WSOP) has unveiled one of its most unique innovations of the last few years by announcing a partnership with esports brand, UMG Media Corp.

The Rio Pavilion Room.

The Rio’s Pavilion Room where the 2018 WSOP will be held is set to feature a competitive gaming stage this summer. (Image: YouTube/WSOP)

Moving with the times has been something WSOP bosses have embraced over the last decade, but the deal with UMG will see the summer festival move in a completely new direction.

As per the May 9 press release, an esports stage will be set-up in the center of the Rio’s Pavilion Room throughout the summer series.

A Summer Schedule of Electronic Sports

The initiative is part of UMG’s expansion plans in Las Vegas and will give poker players the chance to see how competitive gaming works on a professional scale.

“Bringing the UMG Esports Stage into the World Series of Poker events is an amazing next step in continuing this initiative into 2018 and beyond. UMG will utilize its ground-breaking event management app to help organize the event and to constantly update participants of upcoming play and special events at the UMG stage,” UMG CEO Dave Antony said in an official press release.

Visitors to the Rio will be able to download the UMG app and take part in scheduled matches throughout the summer. A full list of events is due to be released ahead of the WSOP’s May 29 start date, but the schedule will be updated in real-time as the festival progresses.

As well as giving players the chance to play Xbox One and PC games during the WSOP, the collaboration will further solidify the growing bonds between esports and poker.

Poker and Esports Growing Together

Esports professionals crossing over into poker has developed into a trend in recent years thanks to the success of gamers such as Bertrand Grospellier. Off the back of these movements, major poker operators have started to invest in esports teams.

PokerStars became a primary sponsor of Team Liquid in May 2016, while 888poker made a similar move in December of that year when it partnered with FlowEsports. On a more personal level, German high roller Fedor Holz invested some of his $26 million tournament earnings into Envy Gaming Inc. back in December 2017.

Much like the poker boom in the early noughties, competitive gaming has become a global phenomenon over the last decade. Initially popular in Asia, the industry now has followers around the world and is projected to generate $1.5 billion in annual revenue by 2020.

With operators and players on both sides of the divide noting the similarities between gaming and poker, the WSOP’s latest deal should prove to be mutually beneficial. UMG currently has a userbase of 1.9 million players, all of whom now have a reason to visit the world’s largest poker festival this summer.

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