Yesterday, we told you about a brand new bar set to open in Melbourne next month. Calling itself “Australia’s first esports bar”, GG EZ is already courting controversy – but we’ve got word from the inside and it looks like this one has the goods to back it up.
Firstly, that “Australia’s first” catchphrase. There are 23+ million people living here, so it can be difficult to determine who or what is really the first at anything. In this case, a Player Attack viewer raised the question of whether or not Canberra’s Reload Bar may have already picked up that crown, three years ago.
Reload opened in 2014, and has hosted esports screenings virtually since Day One. Earlier this year, the venue was significantly revamped, with new and next-gen consoles replaced by retro classics – but the esports focus continues.
“We do all night screenings for The International and LOL Worlds when its in the US,” says co-owner Ravi Sharma, with StarCraft II and CS:GO also on the list. “We host LAN events in our internet cafe located upstairs and turn the bar into a production studio / spectator area. We show live streams from our own esport teams and feature international streamers in dedicated ‘Reload bar’ stream events.”
It’s a strong case for the nation’s capital, but GG EZ community manager Shay Leighton explains that the new Melbourne venue will not be like “anything you’ve seen before in the gaming bar space”.
In that space, there are a few things common to almost all gaming bars.
…and it’s that last one that will set GG EZ apart. If you’re looking for somewhere to go and actually play games – whether you prefer console, PC, tabletop, board or card – you’ll have to keep looking.
It’s a deliberate choice, which brings the venue back to a more traditional model. “No one complains that you can’t play football at a sports bar,” laughs Leighton.
“GG EZ is not a gaming bar that sometimes shows esports, we’re a 100% dedicated esports bar. Esports from open till close.”
Instead, GG EZ will provide Melbournites with a place to go and watch virtual sports with other likeminded folk. “If it’s an esport we’ll likely be showing it,” Leighton explains, adding that the team will be working with the community to make sure everything is covered. “Of course each of our owners have definite favourites but we’re really interested in showing the broad range of difference across the whole of the esports world.”
Of course, being based in Australia, a significant amount of the international esports action happens across hours a bar might not typically be open. Happily, this is something already addressed by the team at GG EZ. The venue’s liquor license means the doors can be open at key times, so fans won’t have to miss important events.
It should come as no surprise that this bar is being run well, either. There is an experienced team pitching in behind the scenes at GG EZ. Leighton himself was involved in launching Brisbane’s iconic Mana Bar – arguably Australia’s first video game bar – which closed in 2015 (but not before inspiring a Texas gaming cafe and restaurant!).
He’s joined by an assortment of others, including Lachlan McAllister (the man behind such award-winning bars as Mr Wow’s Emporium, Los Barbudos, and Lily Blacks), and futurist Jamie Skella (who has worked with esports since 2004, popping out to help the AFL with its user experience).
With a team like that, it should be no surprise that the food side of things is also being well looked after. GG EZ will feature a full kitchen serving bar food designed to share amongst friends. What sort of food is yet to be determined, but Leighton tells me that just yesterday, the team were chatting with a Korean Street Food chef (and, presumably, sampling a few tasty treats!).