Esports Arena: Competitive Gaming Lounge Opens in Philly's Wells Fargo Center; 'Overwatch' Free Agency Heats Up

Courtesy of Nerd Street Gamers
A mock-up of the LocalHost "public esports space" in Philadelphia's Wells Fargo Center.

Elsewhere in competitive gaming: 'Call of Duty' veteran player Doug “Censor” Martin signs with a mystery team in new league and 17-year-old phenom Sota “Zackray” Okada makes a splash with 'Smash Bros. Ultimate' victory.

Esports Arena is a curated weekly roundup of the biggest stories in the world of online competitive gaming.

Esports infrastructure firm Nerd Street Gamers has announced a partnership with Comcast Spectacor to bring the first-ever "public esports space" in a professional sports stadium to the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. 

The space, called a LocalHost, will feature the same high-end computers used in major professional gaming competitions and grant access to the public to play titles in a "fun, social environment."

"We’re connecting traditional sports and esports for fans because there’s a direct connection between their love for their favorite traditional sports franchises and their love for video games," Rob Johnson, chief operating officer of Nerd Street Gamers, said. "At the Wells Fargo Center, fans will now have access to the excitement of their favorite teams coupled with the thrill of their favorite games."

The LocalHost at the Wells Fargo Center will be open even when there are no games scheduled at the stadium. The space will also host competitive esports tournaments and other gaming-related events year-round. 

"We know that many of our fans were first exposed to hockey through video games, so this gaming space will provide a way for fans to show off their skills," said Valerie Camillo, president of business operations for the Philadelphia Flyers and Wells Fargo Center.

LocalHost Wells Fargo Center opens Wednesday in conjunction with the Flyers’ scheduled home game against the New Jersey Devils. 

Elsewhere, the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive team Heretics have acquired the rights to Lucas "Lucky" Chastang from G2 Esports. Chastang himself made the announcement on Twitter: "This is the beginning of a new adventure, I really believe in this project and I’m convinced hard work can bring us to the top." The move comes two days after Heretics signed former CS: GO Major Championship winner Fabien "kioShiMa" Fiey, completing Heretics’ roster.

Here’s what else is happening in the world of esports.

Call of Duty Vet Signs With New League Team

Call of Duty pro player Doug "Censor" Martin, who hasn’t played for a professional team since his days with FaZe Clan from 2011 to 2018, has announced he has signed with one of the teams in the upcoming Call of Duty League. Martin revealed in a YouTube video this week that after discussions with multiple teams, he has in fact chosen a new home, though he is remaining mum on where that is. With only two teams’ full rosters known at this time (London and New York City), there are many possibilities. 

Overwatch League's Florida Mayhem Release Five Players Ahead of Free Agency

The Overwatch League’s free agency period is coming soon and the Florida Mayhem have started preparing early, releasing five players and an assistant coach. Tank player Yoon "Swon" Seong-won, flex support Jo "HaGoPeun" Hyeon-woo and substitutes Koo "Xepher" Hae-mo, Park "RAin" Jae-ho and Choi "DPI" Yong-joon will all be looking for new teams next season. Assistant coatch Kim "KH1" Hyung-il has also been let go Free agency for the Overwatch League started in full on Monday. 

Teenaged Smash Bros. Prodigy Wins First Major Tournament With Six Different Characters

Sota "Zackray" Okada — one of the youngest Super Smash Bros Ultimate players on the competitive scene at 17 years old — took this weekend’s North American Smash Ultimate Major tournament, dubbed The Big House 9, in epic fashion, using six different characters on the road to victory, a rarity in the event. Okada, known as one of the top Wolf character players in the world, also employed fighter characters Mr. Game and Watch, Corrin, Sonic, Joker and R.O.B. on his way to winning the over-1,000-entrant tournament.