Sophia Metz and Europe’s growing eSports bar

Sophia Metz and Europe’s growing eSports bar

 

When Starcraft 2 was ramping up for release and the beta was underway, the only exposure I had to any kind of eSport was G4’s early show titled Arena hosted by Wil Wheaton. When the show eventually went downhill I never gave the eSports scene another thought. Then I saw the Battle Report that Blizzard were putting together showing off Starcraft 2, and commentating on matches. I once again just like with the show Arena I was hooked and I began searching out for more of this style of content. Fast forward four years and Heart of the Swarm has just been released for Starcraft 2, League of Legends is now the most played game in the world, and eSports are more popular than ever drawing in crowds of more than 8 million watching online and 8 thousand watching it live.

I got the chance to talk with the always lovely Sophia Metz, who along with her 2 friends opened up Meltdown Europe’s first eSports bar in Paris, France along with the newly opened Meltdown Berlin, that opened in Germany this February. Sophia Metz

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3rd-Strike: For my readers who don’t know can you tell me how you started getting into the Starcraft e-sports scene. It doesn’t seem like something a person just stumbles into.

Sophia Metz: I’ve been into RTS games for a very long time (1997) so I naturally got into Starcraft II when the Beta came out. My friends and I were all Zerg players, and very proud to be so. That’s how in 2011 I started a Facebook page called Zerg Lair to gather some more of us. In an effort to provide content for the page, I got in touch with several pro-gamers for interviews and took my camera to as many events as I could to provide coverage. I got addicted to it: crowds cheering for the game I love, thousands of people who share my passion… I wanted this everyday, I wanted to give gamers a place to gather.Two born gamers decided to join me on the adventure: Yann, who was working in eSports already, and Mano, my best friend of all time, who had been working in bars for many years. Meltdown was born.It’s basically the HQ you’ve always wanted to have as a kid, the secret place where you gather after school with your friends to eat candies while playing or watching videogames. Except we grew up and replaced the candies with alcohol.

What exactly is an eSports bar?

An eSports bar is somewhat like a permanent barcraft: not only can you go there to watch games every day of the week, but you can also just use the free-to-access computers to play or take part in weekly tournaments.

But mainly an eSports bar is somewhere you go to share drinks and your passion with other gamers. It doesn’t matter if you go alone or with friends, you will never feel left apart.

You have a strong connection to the Starcraft eSports scene but is Meltdown strictly only for Starcraft?

Meltdown is open to all eSports scenes: we have weekly LoL and Dota 2 tournaments, some SSF4, various FPS… But it’s true there has always been a focus on Starcraft II.

Meltdown front

Starcraft multi-player is known for being very competitive and there can be sometimes a large gap in terms of player skill. Its created this kind of apprehension for people who pick up the game to play, they enjoy the game but they are scared of going online and playing against others.

It’s one of the problems I have, I love the game and I love to watch people cast games and tournaments but I’m generally not a good player at the game. Does Meltdown have any kind of events or ways to help players get better at the game?

Watching games is already a great way to improve, but we also offer other ways to do so, for example coaching evenings with pro gamers like Stephano, who helps players individually and then explains mechanics on the mic for everybody to hear. Other than that, we organize fun events like the “Bring your Noob” tournament: it’s a competition where good players are paired with less good ones and coach them in real time during the games.

Players who don’t feel confident enough for 1v1 can also take part in our 2v2 tournaments.

Day9 Meltdown

So you guys have your own in-house local tournaments going on regularly? How often are the tournaments, are they a weekly kind of thing?

Yes, for example we have SC2 tournaments every Friday and LoL tournaments every Thursday.

Tournaments are a big deal for people who love Starcraft, where we can watch Stephano or Idra at their best go up against the best players in the world.

When these big tournaments come around like the GSL, what kind of event happens at Meltdown for people who want to come and watch the tournament with everyone?

We optimized the venues for watching tournaments: multiple TVs and projector, high-speed Internet connection… wherever you are in the bar you can enjoy the games, with or without stream sound. And for a lot of major events, we offer merchandise from our sponsors (XMG, Razer, Eizo…)!

Meltdown

Speaking of sponsors you guys just announced a partnership with Team Liquid for their merchandise, what does this mean for the gamers coming to Meltdown?

It’s a great partnership that makes a lot of sense: Meltdown just became the offline retail point for TL merchandise. This means tshirts, hoodies and posters can now be purchased in every Meltdown bar: Paris, Berlin… and soon London! (exclusive info here ;))

 

So Meltdown first started in Paris, then last year you opened one up in Berlin, and you’re going to open one up in London. You guys seem really popular, where do you hope to eventually take Meltdown? Do you want to have an eSports bar in every country?

Yes, our goal is to eventually have a Meltdown bar everywhere the community needs one.

And not only that: we want to help people open their own eSports bar, but know how hard it can be to achieve without any support. That’s why we started a franchise system that allows anyone to have their own Meltdown bar while benefiting from our full assistance, network and experience.

How closely do the, soon to be 3 Meltdown bars work together? Do you have tournaments with one bar against another, or are they generally handled separately?

Tournaments in between bars will become more and more regular with the growth of the network, with possibly an international Meltdown league and ranking system.

One of the most important things when it comes to a bar, any kind of bar really. The drinks, I’ve heard Stephano even has one named after himself.

Yes, we had a professional cocktail designer work on our drinks menu to create great gaming cocktails such as Spawning Pool, Stimpack, Blue Flame Hellion, or Cloud Kingdom. And you’re right, we designed a shot with Stephano, he picked his favourite recipe and we named it after him.

The first season of the European WCS has just started and I’m sure Meltdown Paris is full with everyone cheering on the home favourite Stephano.

Blue Flame Hellion

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Craig Lynn
Craig Lynn


Craig spends most of his time playing Persona games to a ridiculous degree.

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