As part of a leaguewide effort to grow NHL esports, the Capitals on Tuesday announced the creation of Caps Gaming and the signing of pro gamer John “JohnWayne” Casagranda, who will serve as an official ambassador of the new brand.

Casagranda was the runner-up at the second annual NHL Gaming World Championship in June and, according to Monumental Sports and Entertainment, is the first esports pro signed by an NHL organization.

In addition to streaming weekly games on the Caps Gaming Twitch channel, Casagranda, who lives in Alaska, is likely to participate in the Caps Gaming Showcase, a 32-team contest beginning with an eight-game regular season in early December and featuring a $15,000 prize pool. The top 16 teams will advance to a single-elimination tournament, with the in-person semifinals and final scheduled for February in D.C.

Unlike most NHL esports tournaments to date, which have typically featured one-vs.-one or three-vs.-three formats, the Caps Gaming Showcase will feature six-vs.-six competition in NHL 20 on Xbox One. In other words, all 12 players on the ice at a given time, including the goalies, will be human-controlled.

“There’s an appetite for NHL esports,” Andrew McNeill, Monumental Sports and Entertainment’s director of esports, said in a phone interview. “We’re excited to push the boundaries with Caps Gaming."

This year’s NHL Gaming World Championship final, a one-vs.-one competition, drew 632,907 unique viewers on Twitch, according to Front Office Sports, almost three times as many as the inaugural event in 2018.

While the NBA has the NBA 2K League, which completed its second season in August, the NHL has no formal esports league structure and has instead left esports activation to individual teams. Front Office Sports reported that 22 of the league’s 31 teams held local esports tournaments last season. The Capitals hosted their first tournament in February and a second one in March.

“I think it’s eventually going to happen where the NHL adopts a full-on league and every team is competing against one another for a large prize,” said McNeill, who also oversees Wizards District Gaming, Monumental’s NBA 2K League team. “We want to do our part to get it there.”

Information about signing up for the Caps Gaming Showcase will be available later this month.

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