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PIVIP event coming to Kings Island in May

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Cincinnati's first-ever esports tournament and video game conference, from the founder of the MidPoint and Bunbury music festivals, has selected its site for the inaugural event this year.

Bill Donabedian's ESK Presents, which has founded and co-founded festivals like MidPoint, Bunbury, Buckle Up, Bellwether and Brandemonium, is hosting the inaugural PiviP tournament and gaming conference at Kings Island on May 18.

The 2019 event will be a preview much like the Bunbury preview that was free to the public and featured one stage with music acts. It will be free to attend for anyone who purchases admission to the park on that day but will feature all of the trappings of a gaming conference. That includes:

  • A collegiate Overwatch tournament as well as amateur Fortnite, League of Legends and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate tournaments
  • Keynote addresses from and meet and greets with YouTube and Twitch personalities
  • Cosplay photo opportunities
  • Exhibitors and vendors from major companies in the gaming and esports industries.

Donabedian told me Kings Island approached him about hosting the event there and he immediately thought it would solve some of the common problems with this type of conference.

"I went to PAX (the gaming festival), and it was an amazing event, but on day two I saw people just laying down on the floor," he said. "At PiviP, if you've watched a tournament and saw a speaker, you might not have anything to do for a few hours before the next event, so why not ride some roller coasters?"

The idea was partially sparked by something common to every festival and conference: lines. When exhibitors or celebrities have a booth or table, people wait in lines for sometimes hours.

Donabedian envisions taking advantage of those lines by having them end not just with a meet and greet with a YouTube personality but also at a roller coaster. Along the way, exhibitors can set up their booths so people can experience the trade show element while they're waiting in line.

While the 2019 event is a preview, Kings Island is already on board for 2020 and beyond, Donabedian told me. If the event catches on, he envisions exporting it to other parks owned by Cedar Fair – Kings Island's parent company – like Cedar Point, Carowinds or Kings Dominion.

Esports is a juggernaut that has grown from the family rooms and basements of kids who grew up in the '80s and '90s to massive arenas where corporations sponsor teams of professional gamers. Donabedian thinks it's only going to get bigger as people who may casually play video games realize there's a broader community out there. They only need to be exposed to it.

"The industry is watching us," he said. "Maybe we try something new. This event is about giving everyone the taste."


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Where would be the ideal location to have the actual tournaments? The only location in the park I could think of is the Festhaus. They could set something up on the stage and utilize the TVs in there as well to show whats going on on in the game. Then they could also have some exhibitor stuff in Action Zone

Edit: I completely forgot about the KI Theater. Having it there would make it not as much of a disruption to guests who aren't there for the event but not as many people could watch

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9 minutes ago, NoChickens said:

 I wasn't aware the park had released the dates for CoasterStock.

They were, the itinerary hasn't been updated yet. Not sure if the site completely live since it is not on the front page, but the link I have booked marked shows the dates for 2019. 

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Coasterstock's activities during the day are typically behind-the-scenes tours or hosted in the Picnic Grove, where there's plenty of room, so I don't think having the events coincide will be a problem.

1 minute ago, Winterfestguy said:

I imagine the Kings Island Theater will be utilized with its large projection screen since Cirque does’t begin showing until the Memorial Day weekend.

The remodeled Enchanted Theater space could also be utilized.

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2 hours ago, NoChickens said:

KIC news thread clearly says "tentative"

Correct, we have not gotten official word from the park yet. Until we hear it from the park or see it on the website we don't want to State it as fact. 

We have been told we should know for sure here in a few weeks.

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As the park looks to expand with events like this and Winterfest, they really would benefit by building more indoor venues.  I would love to see them build something like a Harmony Hall over by the new coaster and make Showplace Theater an indoor venue.

One only has to look at the amount of people in Festhaus on a busy day to see the park could support two large indoor eating/show venues.

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