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In Pictures: Video-game entrepreneurs host an event in Toronto

Windsor, Ont.-based eSport Gaming is trying to round up sponsorships, advertising and partnerships with big companies like Microsoft

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Fans of the video game Defense of the Ancients 2 gather to watch the International Dota 2 championships broadcast from Seattle at the Regent Theatre in Toronto in July. The event was put on by eSport Gaming Events, a Windsor, Ont.-based company that stages video game competitions and spectator events around Southwestern Ontario.

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Shane Perron of eSport Gaming sells raffle tickets at the screening. The company also hosts tournaments in which PC and console gamers compete for cash and hardware prizes. The events might attract 250 players and upward of 50 spectators onsite, plus several hundred more watching via the popular online streaming platform Twitch.

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To build a sustainable business, eSport Gaming wants to better monetize its offerings and create a series of events with a big game developer such as Microsoft Corp., says Shaun Byrne, far left, co-founder and chief operating officer. With him are, from left, co-founder Sten Dragoti, interns Trieu Lai and Chris Laliberte, and chief communications officer Shane Perron.

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Staff of eSport Gaming Events sell raffle tickets and promote their next event at the Dota 2 screening.

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Chris Laliberte of eSport Gaming stands in front of an inflatable winged courier, a character from the video game Defense of the Ancients 2, in Toronto. Mostly because of a lack of funding, eSport Gaming hasn’t fully capitalized on merchandising, online streaming, advertising and sponsorships, Mr. Byrne says. The firm has gotten nowhere with major game developers. “We’ll think we have a lead, someone to speak to,” he explains. “It’ll turn out to be a dead end.”

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Raffle prizes and giveaways cover a table at the Regent Theatre in Toronto. Mr. Byrne doesn’t see Microsoft holding e-sports tournaments in a market such as Windsor or Kitchener-Waterloo. “But they could definitely partner up with someone like us and we could go in there and do it for them,” he says. “Trying to get them to realize that the potential is there will be key to growing our business.”

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