The CW network will be one of the first U.S. broadcast channels to air an esports competition, with TBS being the first live cable network to host Counter-Strike: Global Offensive competition, ELeague. The CW plans to debut with a H1Z1: King of the Kill tournament at 9 p.m. on April 20, game developer Daybreak Game Company announced Wednesday.
H1Z1: Fight for the Crown, which features a $300,000 prize pool, is the first team-based invitational for the game. Echo Fox, Rogue Gaming, Denial Esports and Panda Global are confirmed participants at this time, with 11 teams yet to be announced. Total, there will be 75 players across 15 teams.
"It will be fascinating to see the different team dynamics and strategies at work because the stakes are higher," H1Z1 executive producer Chris Wynn said in a statement. "There is no room for mistakes or hesitation when your whole team is relying on you."
CW Seed, The CW Network's digital platform, will feature a five-episode docuseries about Echo Fox's preparation for the tournament.
Previous H1Z1 invitationals have focused on individual play rather than team player-vs-player competition. The 2016 H1Z1 invitational, which took place on Oct. 2 at TwitchCon, built up a prize pool of more than $267,000. An Echo Fox player, Radek "EchoFoxRadek" Polzer, won one of the two 60-person finals at that tournament. Rogue player Reed "inboxes" Tucker took second in that match and won the second game of the finals.
Professional esports organizations began acquiring H1Z1 squads in 2016, when Echo Fox became the first team to bring in an H1Z1 squad. Rogue followed suit early this year, and Panda Global added a roster Feb. 7.
"The introduction of the 5v5 format brings more potential for rivalries, action and storylines, perfect for propelling the [game's] esports aspirations forward," Panda Global chief financial officer David Wu said in a statement. "Panda Global is proud to be one of the teams on the forefront of this movement."