Raising the bar for KW eSports

Tired of having nothing to watch but hockey and basketball at your local watering hole? Are you craving a bar that caters to your nerdy aesthetic? Then you may want to check out Level Up, KW&rsquo;s first &ldquo;eSports bar,&rdquo; which looks to provide patrons with a much larger assortment of games to take in.&nbsp;</p>

The downtown Kitchener establishment, co-founded by Brody Moore, Zachary Balloch, Sarah Rosenquist, and Stephe Ciokan, aims to be half drinking lounge, half competitive gaming venue, with one goal: bringing gamers together. 

“Everyone who plays games wishes there was a place they could go to do it and meet everyone else who plays games,” Rosenquist told Imprint. “Every gamer wishes for a place like this, so we’re just jumping into it.” 

The bar is currently undergoing renovations in hopes of being set for an official opening this September, but in the meantime Level Up is acting as a competitive gaming venue. 

“Right now [Level Up] is for events only. We don’t have set hours of being open, it’s just as events come and go,” explained Rosenquist. 

While half the bar is still undergoing construction, the other half has been finished, with dozens of TVs and gaming consoles installed, and tables set up in a similar manner to what you’d see in eSports tournaments. 

“The vision for this side is to have it be the more competitive side, so the focus of smaller TVs with lower response time lag, that’s what the competitive scene likes to see,” Rosenquist said.

Let’s Play KW, an eSports organization also founded by Moore, hosts weekly events for Super Smash Bros. Melee and Super Smash Bros. for Wii U at Level Up, with plans to introduce Street Fighter and Rocket League tournaments in the near future. The venue is also open to members of the general public hoping to set up gaming events. 

The other side of the bar is intended to have a casual lounge setup, for gamers less interested in the competitive scene. 

“[We’ll have] some food, some drinks, some tables to sit — play your 3DS, eat your food or whatever,” Rosenquist said.  There will also be big, comfy couches and big screen TVs, so more like what you would do at your house when your friends come over.

“People will come in who aren’t into competitive gaming, per se, but do they enjoy socializing and playing games? They can come in and play Mario Kart or Mario Party all night if they want,” Balloch said. 

The Level Up founders claim the bar is currently in “beta phase,” eager to make any needed adjustments before the official launch.  

“We don’t have everything the way we would like it to be, but the idea is, like any true beta, we’re putting a product out there for people to test out and give us feedback, and we’re using that feedback to grow this into what it will eventually be,” said Rosenquist. 

“The more feedback the better, so if anyone wants to come down and check us out and see the beginning stages of the vision, we’ll definitely take all feedback with great consideration,” Balloch added.