RALEIGH – The Triangle area has hosted esports competitions and exhibitions before, but nothing has been bigger than the Rainbow Six Siege at the Raleigh Convention Center this weekend.

“The Raleigh Major, one of the largest e-sports events in the world – it’s one of the top five,” said Ed Tomasi, director of Big Block’s e-sports division.

There are 16 teams from around the world in Raleigh, competing for the $500,000 prize pool.

The competition is an opportunity for Raleigh to demonstrate its potential as a major e-sports hub along with the local fan base to support it.

“As soon as they announced that this event was going to be hosted here in Raleigh and the tickets went on sale, they started selling out in batches,” Tomasi said.

About 7,000 people bought tickets to see the competition in person, but they’re just a fraction of who will be watching.

“There’s going to be over 7 million viewers watching live this weekend,” Tomasi said.

Local video gaming hardware and software companies like Lenovo, which is based in Morrisville and is sponsoring a team; Ubisoft, which has a facility in Morrisville and is an event sponsor; and Epic Games, the Cary-based creator of Fortnite, play a role, as do many of the universities within Wake County.

It represents a huge talent pool, VisitRaleigh’s Loren Gold said.

“The fact that NC State, William Peace University, Wake Tech and Wake County Public Schools all have gaming development and simulation curriculum, that’s a plus for us,” Gold said.

When there are short breaks in the games this weekend, the city will livestream promotional ads to let viewers from around the world better discover Raleigh, Gold said.