Nuno Guerreiro, a Senior Associate at HOK, recently penned an article for DigitalSport about designing the next generation of eSports stadiums and venues. As Guerreiro notes, traditional bowl design methodologies simply don’t work for eSports events. Moreover, a layout that addresses the requirements of one game might not be the most appropriate choice for another franchise.
“Team games like Counter-Strike, for example, require players to watch individual screens, while player-versus-player matches like Street Fighter require competitors to share a setup,” he explains. “Given these unique, ever-changing requirements of esports events, we believe there will be a move toward more circular, scalable venues that can be sectioned off and configured to accommodate the specific needs of each individual game.”
According to Guerreiro, HOK envisions a modular player infrastructure that can be easily added, removed or shifted around an arena as needed.
“eSports venue design requires considerably more digital inventory than traditional sports,” he elaborated. “This inventory in an eSport-specific venue could include personal screens, feeds that display player statistics across signage throughout the arena, lighting and in-venue effects that enhance the fan experience and infrastructure required to live stream events for global spectators.”
From our perspective, it is also important to emphasize that next-generation eSports stadiums and arenas will present an extremely challenging environment for wireless networks, as streaming media already generates a considerable amount of traffic in such venues. Nevertheless, bandwidth-hungry technologies such as AR, VR, and 4K-8K video are becoming standard requirements for eSports fans and players.
In addition, Wi-Fi deployments in eSports stadium and arena are often challenging due to space constraints. This issue can be addressed with miniaturized embeddable access points (APs) that are tucked underneath and between seats, with a separate antenna subsystem placed nearby. Beyond miniaturized form factors, next-generation Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) APs, along with multi-gigabit switches and fiber-based backbones, will also be required to support the eSports stadiums and venues of the future.
Indeed, Wi-Fi 6 APs are designed for ultra-high-density environments and can help eSports stadiums achieve up to a four-fold capacity increase (over Wi-Fi 5 Wave 2 APs) in dense scenarios with data streams rates of over 10 Gbit/s. In addition, Wi-Fi 6 enables multiple APs deployed in ultra-high-density environments such as crowded eSports stadiums to deliver faster and more reliable Wi-Fi to more users. This is made possible by numerous enhancements to the ever-evolving Wi-Fi 6 feature set, including orthogonal frequency-division multiple access (OFDMA) and multi-user
However, even with new Wi-Fi 6 APs, designing a network to support seamless 4K-8K streaming and bandwidth-heavy AR/VR content in crowded eSports stadiums is a challenging proposition. This is because it will take some time for devices owned by eSports fans and players to take full advantage of Wi-Fi 6 APs. Fortunately, there are multiple Wi-Fi 6-like features that can be supported on older APs and devices, including those that reduce unnecessary traffic, minimize interference and maintain a fast, reliable Wi-Fi connection for users.