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Extra Life Phoenix Esports Tournament Raises over $100,000 For The Kids

From July 25-26, 2020, gamers from across the world participated in Extra Life Phoenix, an online esports tournament put together by Phoenix Children’s Hospital and Axis Replay. The event attracted so much attention that it required qualifiers for teams looking to enter the tournament.

Popular video game streamers, professional sportscasters, and sports stars made appearances on stream to spice up the games for online viewers. The combined efforts of over 430 gamers managed to raise over $100,000 USD to help the kids at Phoenix Children’s Hospital with the tournament rebroadcasted via ESTV to streaming devices.

Extra Life Phoenix was made possible with the help of local sponsors like Cox and the University of Phoenix. Players from the United States, Canada, and as far away as Israel participated in tournament brackets for Rocket League, NBA 2K20, Fortnite, and Madden NFL 20. Players who won their respective tournaments received cash, prizes, and special matches against Twitch streamers like Markydooda, Dazerin, and Satthew. Madden NFL 20’s tournament was casted by two-time Super Bowl Champion Tyrone Poole alongside Madden NFL Video Game announcer Larry Ridley. Ridley also leant his voice and casting talent to the NBA 2K20 alongside Atlanta Dream’s Renee Montgomery.

We talked with Sandi Garcia, Phoenix Children’s Hospital’s Event Planner, to learn more about how the tournament came about and how others might be able to do the same in their communities.

Jack Gardner: Phoenix Children’s Hospital and Axis Replay worked together to create the Extra Life Phoenix tournament. What did each side bring to the table? 

Sandi Garcia: There is a lot that goes into putting this type of event together. Axis Replay has a lot of esports/gaming knowledge; therefore, we really relied on them heavily to manage the tournament and production aspect of the event. With their help, the team at Phoenix Children’s was able to have great conversations with corporate partners to explain the great opportunities and exposure this type of event can bring.

JG: What are some of the difficulties of putting together a tournament like this during a pandemic? Is it all online behind the scenes or did you need additional policies to keep those working on the tournament safe? 

SG: This type of event can easily be done in-person and online. During this pandemic, it is encouraged to stay home and with that, gamers are home playing more and we knew getting people to register wouldn’t be a difficult task. We had a great marketing team that was able to get the word out via our social channels, local radio and TV promotions as well as some targeted advertising. There are a lot of moving parts to this type of event and most of it is behind the scenes. The production team in Atlanta did an amazing job following CDC Guidelines during the two-day livestream with social distancing between the hosts and the casters.

JG: Did you see more interest than you think you might have in a year without a pandemic? Do you think this is something that could become a yearly tradition for Phoenix Children’s Hospital and Axis Replay? 

SG: The esports/gaming world is a growing industry and during this pandemic, it has grown exponentially; however, esports is here to stay and we believe this event will grow year over year. Yes, Extra Life Phoenix will be an annual event and we do plan on working with Axis Replay in the future. Our goal is to be the premier esports event in Arizona and we believe that we can get there with our partners at Axis Replay.

JG: How did the partnership between Axis Replay and Phoenix Children’s form initially? And how did it progress to the point where both organizations decided to greenlight an entire esports tournament?  

SG: Josh Otero, Co-Founder and CEO of NutriGMR as well as a Phoenix Children’s Hospital supporter connected us with Axis Replay. The initial conversations were to obtain knowledge about hosting this type of event. Then we learned that Axis Replay was not only a gaming facility but they had experience in hosting esports tournaments as well as event production with other non-profits. They are essentially a one-stop-shop with tournament management, creative (graphic designers), production and marketing. Therefore, it was a no brainer that this was the right fit for Phoenix Children’s.

JG: Given the huge amount of success experienced with this tournament, what are a few things other groups or organizations could do to replicate what you’ve accomplished with their local hospitals? 

SG: I think it is finding the right company that you can connect with and knows the importance of raising funds for a children’s hospital. Learning the industry is important as well which helps to have great conversations with corporate partners. Lastly, because of the pandemic, we have to be creative and think of new ways to engage our corporate partners during these types of events.

Congratulations to all involved!

Don’t forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!