A-Kon will take place June 7-10 with OpTic Arena open June 8-10
Last year in its first ever Fort Worth appearance, A-Kon’s 28th-annual convention brought with it more than 25,000 anime, gaming, Japanese pop culture and cosplay fans for four days of cosplay, gaming and concerts. This year the convention is expected to bring in more than 33,000 attendees.
A-Kon is North America’s longest-running and second largest anime convention, and though it was held in Dallas from 1989-2016, the convention seems to be finding a new home in cowtown.
Among other things, the convention includes cosplay, TV and movie screenings with panels featuring voice actors and directors, concerts by Japanese and SteamPunk bands and martial arts demonstrations.
But that’s not all.
This year, the four-day event is bringing with it the inaugural OpTic Arena Esports Gaming Event featuring three days of all-you-can-play esports.
The arena is the result of a collaboration by A-Kon, Frisco-based OpTic Gaming and NGAGE eSports, and will feature a series of video game events that attendees can participate in for the chance to earn prizes and merchandise. Tickets to OpTic Arena are $79 and include a weekend pass to OpTic Arena, A-Kon and the 24-hour gaming lounge at the Omni Hotel. Or, access to OpTic Arena is free with A-Kon 29 registration.
Attendees will have access to Fortnite competitions throughout the weekend and the top 5 placing attendees per competition will be entered into Golden Ticket matches held at the end of the day June 9-10.
Additionally, attendees can register to participate in any fighting gaming tournaments — including the Melee Tournament, Dragon Ball Fighter Z Tournament, and Street Fighter V Tournament — for $10 per game.
An NGAGE news release detailed some of the games to be featured at OpTic Arena:
— Call of Duty – Players face off in a first-person shooter reenactment of WWII conflicts, utilizing the era’s guns and weapons.
— Super Smash Bros. Melee – (the No. 7 top game by active players in 2017 according to esportsearnings.com) Players pit Nintendo’s most famous mascots against each other in an attempt to knock each other off the stage for a slice of the $5,000 pot bonus.
— Dragon Ball FighterZ – The cast of the world-famous anime series shoot fireballs and exchange blindingly fast punches and kicks in a traditional 2D fighting game. Winners will earn a part of a $5,000 pot bonus.
— Street Fighter V – The latest iteration of the classic fighting game series has its cast punch, kick, throw, and fireball each other into submission in one-on-one combat. The best performers will get a part of a $5,000 prize pot.
— Fort Nite – a co-op sandbox survival game where up to 60 players can participate
All of this is in addition to the Feature Stage which will showcase professional gamers and streamers playing their favorite games and engaging in exhibitions.
Though the eSports industry is growing in North Texas — R.E. relocation of Gearbox Software and Complexity to Frisco, new esports arena in development — this is the first time Fort Worth will host a large-scale live-gaming event.
According to GamerWorldNews.com, the esports industry is closing in on $1.5 billion in global revenues, with North America at about $225 million in revenue, and is experiencing a 22 percent annual growth rate.
In fact, D Magazine reported that local esports players are bringing in six figure salaries, not including their full benefits packages and competition for tournament winnings up to $1 million.
And it seems the North Texas eSports arena is just getting started.
According to D Magazine, Texas Rangers COO Neil Leibman and entrepreneur Chris Chaney came together to acquire a majority stake in OpTic Gaming, moving the team to Frisco from Chicago, and committing to invest $10 million.
The duo also formed Infinite Esports & Entertainment, the holding company for NGAGE Esports, the company that will manage the new 100,000-square-foot esports stadium at the Arlington Convention Center.
But if gaming isn’t piquing one’s interest, A-Kon’s website features a long list of guests from around the world in the areas of cosplay and fashion, music and performance, panelists and community, voice actors and directors, and webcomics and Youtube — with 10 in particular prominently displayed:
— Matt Mercer, known for his voice acting/directing
— The Awkward Yeti, known for webcomics/Youtube
— Cassandra Lee Morris, known for her voice acting/directing
— Erica Lindbeck, known for her voice acting/directing
— Toru Furuya, (International) known for his voice acting/directing
— Shino Kakinuma, (International) known for her voice acting/directing
— Toshio Furukawa, (International) known for his voice acting/directing
— Garnidelia, (International) known for music and performance
— Bradio, (International) known for music and performance
— Amenokitarou (A.K. Wirru) Baby, internationally known for cosplay and fashion
The convention also supports a charity initiative each year. The 2018 A-Kon Charity Initiative is the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children. Attendees can contribute to the initiative through buying a Charity FastPass – the Fast Pass will feature collectible merchandice, priority registration line access, special autograph sessions, exclusive access to the exhibit hall, priority access to the Masquerade Ball, and early entry and priority seating for main events – or purchasing a ticket for the Banquet with the Stars from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, June 10, which will feature special guests and prize giveaways.
Tickets for A-Kon range from $25-$79.