These days the name Red Bull is just as synonymous with sporting events as it is with energy drinks. Over the past few years, the company has aligned itself with the biggest names and competitions in the sporting world through blockbuster events across the globe. Given that gaming is the newest frontier of competitive sports, it's no surprise Red Bull is getting in on the E-sports action; 2018 saw the brand open their very own Red Bull Gaming Sphere, an impressive Tokyo outpost, which now also has a location in London.
Large PC and TV screens scattered around the warehouse styled space, an array of various gaming consoles, and serious looking players decked out in thick headsets, and with laser-sharp focus, it's clear this Sphere means business. The space could be described as what it would look like if a public boxing gym collided with a gaming arcade. It’s social and communal, but everyone is here for one thing, to compete.
Located in Nakano, one of inner-Tokyo’s most densely populated neighborhoods, and an otaku ‘geek’ haven, the Red Bull Gaming Sphere hosts regular open gaming events every Monday night known as #RedBullMondayNightStreaks. Free to enter and also free to sign up as a competitor, each week the competition focuses on a different game, including blockbuster names like Gran Turismo, Halo, and FIFA, as well as more local titles like Rockman, Puyo Puyo, and Tekken. The number of participants, and how they're selected for each tournament depends on the game that’s being played on the night.
#RedBullMondayNightStreaks competition runs like a regular sporting competition. It starts at 8pm with all competitors entering the qualifying round, as the tournament progresses, the losers are knocked out, and the winners continue on to the qualifying round. Once only two fighters remain, there’s a nail-biting final for the pair to battle it out to be crowned the ultimate champion. The winner also goes home 99,999 yen prize money and a signed illustration from the game's creator. Free Red Bull is available to all competitors and spectators too. If you want to check out what the space looks like, or witness some of the #RedBullMondayNightStreaks action, the event is live streamed via OPENREC.tv, just follow the links via the #RedBullMondayNightStreaks hashtag on Twitter.
Since opening, the Sphere has become much more than just a once-a-week home to Monday night gaming events. It’s a welcoming community space for advanced and casual players, spectators, developers, and gaming publishers to gather meet, hang out and bring a level of real-life camaraderie to a world that predominantly exists behind a screen.
The Sphere just a five-minute walk south from Nakano Station and is open from 10am - 11pm daily, gamers of all levels are encouraged to pop by. If you want to reserve a space in the studio for a little gameplay, there’s a calendar you can access via the Red Bull Gaming Sphere Tokyo website.