Years ago, when competitive gaming started to become more and more popular, many dismissed it as “nerds being nerds”, and hotly debated whether it was worthy of being called “esports”. But as competitions became hot and “gamers” built a billion-dollar industry with millions of fans around the world, people began to acknowledge that esports are, in fact, a serious intellectual and physical competition, where winners can earn huge paychecks in the form of prize money and sponsorships.
Luckily, with the acknowledgement of esports as a legitimate sport, so too, then, have esports resources become available for the general public, like the esports facility for seniors that opened up in Kobe last year. Now, things are heating up even further with the announcement that Japan’s first ever esports training gym will be opening in Tokyo.
The gym, which will be simply known as “Esports Gym”, is set to open on May 19 in the Akabane neighborhood of Kita Ward, in the northern part of Tokyo. Tokyo Metro, Inc. and esports facilitator Gecipe have partnered together to foster a culture of joint development in and appreciation of Tokyo through esports. They hope to one day create a world where “anyone and everyone can enjoy serious esporting whenever they want”.
The Esports Gym will be located just outside Exit 3 of Akabane Iwabuchi Station, which is the last stop on the Tokyo Metro Namboku Line, which crosses the bulk of Tokyo, all the way from Meguro in the southern part of the city. It will feature a lounge and an esports space composed of twelve gaming PCs, complete with gaming chairs and headsets.
It’s intended to be not only a place for esports players to casually practice their trade, but to also undergo serious training; the gym is expected to be the first one in the country to offer paid coaching sessions from professional esports players. Coaches will hail from Crest Gaming, Glory be esports, and Delta, all champion teams in various games.
Players of all levels, from beginner to advanced, can enroll in training, either in-person or online, and students can even aim to become professional esports players. There will be a special online course for advanced students that, if passed, could lead to tryouts for Crest Gaming.
The facility is expected to open with regular afternoon hours during the week and full-day hours on the weekends. The PCs will be outfitted with five of Japan’s most popular games: VALORANT, League of Legends, Identity V, Rainbow Six Siege, and Puyo Puyo Champions.
Customers have the option to register as a regular gym member for 5,500 yen a month, which affords them daily access to PCs in 3-hour time slots. They can also add coaching from a professional esports player for an additional 2,750 yen per hour. Customers who wish to skip the contract can enjoy three-hour time slots for 1,430 yen each, but will not have access to the professional coaching.
After May, the gym is also planning to hold free-play events and esports lessons on the weekends and holidays, so if you’re interested in improving your esports game, it might be good to keep an eye on their official Twitter account to see what’s coming next. Tokyo Metro and Gecipe also intend to add more services to the gym, to open more gyms, and to hold more esporting events in the future, so hopefully esports will become just as accessible as physical sports very soon!
Esports Gym Iwabuchi / ｅスポーツジム 赤羽岩淵店
Tokyo-to Kita-ku Iwabuchi 36-1 (right next to the stairway to Exit 3 of Tokyo Metro Akabane Iwabuchi Station)
東京都北区岩淵町 36－1 （南北線赤羽岩淵駅 3 番出入口地上部すぐ）
Hours: Mon-Fri 15:00 to 22:00; Weekends and holidays 11:00 to 23:00
Source: PR Times
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