VR Challenger League: ‘Echo Arena’ Competitors Face Off for the North American Regionals at OC4

Oculus Blog
Posted by Oculus VR
October 10, 2017

At E3, we announced the VR Challenger League, our esports initiative with Intel and ESL, featuring Ready At Dawn’s Echo Arena and Insomniac Games’ The Unspoken. Now, we’re making history as the first ever Echo Arena North American Regionals hit OC4, October 11 at 6:00 pm PT. Join the action live on Twitch.

The Echo Arena tournament combines the physicality of traditional sports with the exhilaration of zero-g to create an entirely new, genre-defining competition—fun for esports newcomers and hard-core fans alike.

Regionals will be shoutcasted by John Mullen, AKA Blu, and Kier Asher, AKA PooNanners, and hosted by CSGO player Steph Harvey, AKA missharvey.

Deep Space Spotlight
Beyond critical accolades like the Game Critics Award for Best VR Game of E3, Echo Arena has developed a passionate community, not only in zero-g, but also offline on Reddit, Discord, and the Oculus Forum.

From the Hamburger Helpers coaching new players to the formation of real-life friendships, Echo Arena has planted a flag in the history of VR esports. Shout-out to Ready At Dawn for setting a new standard in VR game development.

The Road to the Finals
Since August, teams across North America and Europe have been competing for their share of a prize pool worth more than $200K.

Brackets are set for OC4 and ESL One Hamburg, while the competition continues to secure slots at IEM Oakland. Stay tuned for the main event and final line-up at the VR Challenger League Grand Finals in March 2018.

Community Highlights
While we'll be on the edges of our seats watching the top eight Echo Arena teams compete for spots in Poland, we’re also excited to welcome the diverse Echo Arena community to OC4.

Kerestell “Lemming” Smith leads Eclipse, the top-ranked Echo Arena team, with teammates iShiny and Palidore. He’s been a VR supporter since Oculus DK2, tried the Echo Arena beta in June, and has been prioritizing the VR Challenger League ever since. “Locomotion got me hooked, but the team aspect keeps me playing,” he explains. For Lemming, the future of VR esports lies in the very foundations of Echo Arena: “The lobby is the truly groundbreaking aspect of Echo Arena—physicality combined with social.” Tune in tomorrow to see Lemming take on competitors in his signature style: upside down.

Bryan “iShiny” McCarthy played Echo Arena for the first time in an Oculus esports exhibition match at E3—looks like we’ve got him hooked! As a professional, competitive Overwatch player, iShiny brings a veteran gaming perspective to Echo Arena. “The game’s micro-mechanics allow for a really high skill level,” he notes. The esports vet went on to point out that VR esports need to be enjoyable for viewers in order to grow. With endless options for gameplay styles and team strategies—much like traditional sports—Echo Area is certainly entertaining for spectators, but iShiny also points out that it’s also “straightforward. People get what’s going on.”

Fondly known as “Echo Mom,” Sonya “Hasko” Haskins gives a lot of her time to the Hamburger Helpers, making sure anyone who enters the lobby has a great experience in Echo Arena. “VR feels like I'm doing something real,” she says. “I’m a part of it and really there.” She’s a woman of many talents, and we’re thrilled to have this mom of five, published author, Tae Kwon Do black belt, and VR evangelist competing in San Jose. She sums up the future of VR esports well, noting, “We’re ahead of the game. Echo Arena is only the beginning.”

Hamburger Helpers are now synonymous with Echo Arena and endorsed by developer Ready At Dawn, but that wasn’t already the case. After reading some negative stories on Reddit about the Echo Arena lobby and skill gap, Sakura felt there had to be a way to foster more positive experiences and encourage new players to join the game. “Developers give you the platform, but it’s up to the players to build a community,” she explains. She chose a red and blue uniform with hamburger decals to distinguish mid-level players willing to guide new players, and the Hamburger Helpers were born. Every Thursday, they gather in the Echo Arena lobby to guide players through mechanics and matches. It’s thanks in large part to Sakura that Echo Arena has become a closer-knit community, welcoming players of all ability levels into the experience.

Tune in Tomorrow
That’s just a glimpse of the many Echo Arena players and community members you’ll meet at OC4. Tune in on Twitch October 11 at 6pm PT for more on the competitors and all the fast-paced, zero-g action of the Echo Arena North American Regionals!

— The Oculus Team

*NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A PURCHASE WILL NOT INCREASE YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING. Void where prohibited by law. ESL VR Challenger League is open only to legal residents of the 50 U.S./D.C., Canada, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and United Kingdom, 13+. For full details and terms on The Unspoken, visit vr.eslgaming.com/rules. For full details and terms on Echo Arena, click here. Sponsors: Oculus VR, LLC and Intel Corporation.