Take your average sports bar, strip it of the physical competition and swap in fans rooting for players racking up points by maneuvering joysticks and pushing buttons and you've got something close to Portland's first hangout dedicated to esports.
Outrage (424 SW 4th Ave.) is expected to open downtown next month, inside the former Witherspoon event space. Co-owner Justin Green estimates the launch will happen sometime during Sept. 19-21, providing time to iron out the final details like general staff hiring and training.
"We're analogous to a traditional sports bar," Green says. "It's a place where like-minded people can talk about a game and argue over whose team's better."
Customers will be able to not only watch esports superstars compete in the kind of live-streaming tournaments that have made them millionaires by their early 20s. Gamers can also bring a buddy or make a new one by beating each other bloody in a game like Street Fighter V.
Green and co-founder Jeff Hotes, two Seattle-based gamers, saw the need for an esports bar because of the activity's rapidly growing popularity. Green believes most of the innovation in this relatively young industry has gone toward game design and stadium/studio construction. But if you're not going to attend one of those large-scale contests, there's not really a dedicated place for esports enthusiasts.
"Where do you go to just hang out more casual? We're filling the void there," says Green. "We're the only bar like this in the Pacific Northwest focused on esports like we are."
Expect a few computers for guests rolling solo who'd rather play a stranger online. But the bulk of the games are multiplayer competitions meant to bring people together who are actually at Outrage, like Overwatch, Super Smash Bros. and League of Legends—the fantasy-genre battle that got Green hooked his freshman year of college.
"The clientele, we want them to chat with others about games and meet new friends," Green says.
The menu includes traditional pub grub, burgers, tacos and mac-and-cheese, along with a full range of bar drinks. Minors won't be allowed, but Green says they may occasionally seek a variance from the OLCC allowing all ages to attend special events. Outrage is scheduled to be open 5 pm-2 am daily, though that might change depending on traffic after the opening. Green notes that the building was refurbished, but they kept the original brick walls and hardwood floors.
"It's the juxtaposition of an old, classic Portland bar feel and a 21st century concept," he says.