There's no greater thrill in hockey than hoisting the Stanley Cup at season's end. But the next best thing might be capturing the Championship trophy and a share of $100,000 when the NHL crowns its first esports champion in June, following an EA SPORTS NHL 18 tournament.
On Friday, the NHL announced registration for the 2018 NHL Gaming World Championship, an esports tournament. To register, visit here.
NHL players such as Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman, Dallas Stars forward Tyler Seguin and Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon were among those who enjoyed playing the game in a promotional spot for the tournament, encouraging NHL fans -- even non-gamers -- to sign up.
The tournament will test the 'Chel skills of players from around the world. Players will be able to register on the FACEIT platform, the Official Tournament Platform of the tournament, and enter the bracket for a chance to win. In addition, NBC Sports, Sportsnet, and Viasat will each host a Regional event in their respective markets and produce compelling event content that provides maximum exposure for the players.
Video: Get ready for the 2018 NHL Gaming World Championship
Beginning March 24 and for the following three Saturdays, registered players will be able to participate in a single-elimination Qualifier tournament, which will take place online for residents of the United States, Canada and the European Union. Players can register and compete in each Qualifier, but if they advance, they won't be able to participate in any remaining Qualifiers.
The games will be played in standard competitive 'Online Versus 1-vs-1 Mode,' with two Qualifiers on Xbox One and two on PlayStation 4, with the latter being used for the Regional Finals and World Final.
"We are excited to enter into the competitive gaming world and provide another way for gamers and fans to connect with our great game," NHL Vice President Chris Golier said. "Our approach was to align with the best partners to create a fun and engaging competition. The exposure, prize pool, and unique experiences from the NHL Gaming World Championships should bring out the top players and show whose 'Chel skills are best."
Eight players from each qualifying region will travel to a Regional Final, comprised of a double-elimination, in-person tournament. The European Finalists will compete at Viasat studios in Stockholm, Sweden, on May 6. Canadian Regional Finalists will compete in Toronto on May 11. United States Regional Finalists will compete at NBC Studios in Stamford, Connecticut, on May 20. These three regional events will offer fans unique content which will be available on NHL and broadcast partners' digital platforms and the NHL's Twitch channel.
The winner and runner-up from each Regional Final will advance to the 2018 NHL Gaming Championship hosted at the new Esports Arena Las Vegas at Luxor Hotel on June 19. The top two gamers will emerge from the round-robin style tournament and face-off in a best-of-three series to determine the 2018 NHL Gaming World champion. The winner will be presented with a trophy, receive their share of $100,000 and take part in the 2018 NHL Awards in Las Vegas.
"The NHL gaming community is passionate for hockey," Andrew Telfer, a 23-year-old gamer from Columbus, Ohio, better known by his social media handle @TheNasher61 said. "Whether it's at the rink, in the street, or with a controller in our hands, we're always looking to play the game we love. With the NHL's announcement of the NHL Gaming World Championship, the community is thrilled to have the opportunity to take our skills to the big stage. Thousands of players are on NHL 18 everyday, tuning their skills, climbing the leaderboards, and building close rivalries among other top opponents. To see these matchups take place on the world stage will be truly incredible. For competitors, this is an opportunity to shine."
With the Stanley Cup Playoffs right around the corner, there's no better time for NHL fans to get involved online. If you'd like to see what the game is all about, check out TheNasher61 on YouTube. One of the more well-known and respected players of the game, he has over 158,000 subscribers and shares tips, tricks and insights, and takes part in user challenges with NHL 18, documenting his efforts.
"To take the game we know and love, and put our skills to the test," Telfer said. "We've never seen anything like this. There's never been a tournament or event of this scale. Worldwide players, fierce competitors, and fast-paced gameplay will make this not only exciting to participate in but for viewers of the event as well. To say we're excited would be an understatement, this is one of the biggest things to happen in hockey gaming history and we're looking forward to seeing how it plays out."
Full rules, regulations and prize pool allocations can be found here and here.