Wrestling star Kenny Omega shares the spotlight with OMEN at E3

At the gaming industry’s biggest gathering, the newest OMEN by HP devices were showcased to video game influencers and one of independent wrestling’s biggest stars.

By Sarah Murry — June 20, 2019

In a dark studio in downtown Los Angeles, a heated competition was unfolding. Backlit in a red glow, pro wrestler Kenny “The Cleaner” Omega wasn't readying for a match of muscle, but rather, one of speed and strategy.

“You can’t rage-quit now!” he says with a playful smile, stoking his opponent with the experienced smack-talk of a fighter. A staffer, observing the carnage, leans in andwhispers, “He’s really good. Don’t let him fool you. I don’t think anyone’s beat him today.”

Underneath the massive biceps stuffed in a tight T-shirt, big personality and always-ready fighter stance is just a regular millennial who grew up playing video games and watching what was then the World Wrestling Federation. Pounding on a retro fight stick — a controller that mimics the buttons on an old-school arcade game — Omega was battling a young pro gamer and streamer who goes by "Guttermagic" in an intense, but fun, face-off.

Markus Weaver

Professional wrestler Kenny Omega is a co-founder and executive vice president of All Elite Wrestling.

The other star of the show: OMEN’s newest gear

Omega, who in 2017 was named Sports Illustrated’s Wrestler of the Year, wasn’t in the ring. Rather, he was at the ESPN esports studio a block away from L.A.’s E3 Live Expo, where he entertained VIPs with back-to-back matches of Street Fighter V at an event promoting HP’s latest lineup of OMEN gaming laptops, desktops, displays and accessories.

The 35-year-old Omega (a Canadian whose given name is Tyson Smith) took inspiration for his stage name from the character Omega Weapon of the Final Fantasy  series. As a kid he idolized the outsized personas and soap opera-worthy storylines of pro wrestling an says while enjoys character-driven role-playing games, he's currently hooked on EA’s Apex Legends. “There are games for everyone these days,” he says.

While Omega played, the 40 gaming influencers, media and analysts at the event were there to get their hands-on with the newest OMEN devices, including gaming laptops in 15- and 17-inch sizes, the Obelisk desktop and a host of new accessories such as the ear-cooling Mindframe Headset and the Sequencer Keyboard.

The standout was the new OMEN X 2S laptop, which has been generating buzz since its launch last month for its innovative, dual-screen setup. Its innovative design reflects how gamers are actually using their devices when playing on the go. Typically, they’ll use their largest screen (in this case, a laptop) for gameplay, and then employ a second, smaller screen for another application where they can stream or broadcast their session, chat with teammates or just listen to a favorite playlist.

Guttermagic, who has a community of about 8,000 followers and broadcasts via Facebook, said he liked that the OMEN X 2S is “super-thin” and “doesn’t get too hot,” and concluded that the dual screen feature is “what sells it.” “It seems like a really simple concept, that you can just maneuver things right there,” he says.

He uses Discord to chat up his fans and viewers while gaming, and describes his “onstream” persona as a trickster who’s always cracking jokes. “When you’re onstream, you want to be a personality that can connect,” he says. “The audience wants to be part of a community and have fun.”

He explains how a built-in second screen would be useful because it frees up valuable USB ports and eliminates the need for another external device. 

A streamer who goes by "Ashleeeeeann," who broadcasts Overwatch and other first-person shooter games to her audience of about 24,000 followers on Twitch, says, “I got to check out the dual-screen laptop, and I was really impressed. I usually have my phone propped up at the base of my screen, and experience-wise, that sucks. It felt almost native to use [the OMEN X 2S].”

Markus Weaver

Gaming influencers get hands-on time with the newest OMEN by HP gear.

All in the game

Amid the glowing screens and rainbow-hued LEDs, attendees mugged for selfies with Omega and each other, and traded tips on gear. One streamer, who was streaming moments from the event live on Facebook, showed off a sleek, handheld gimbal for her phone that was notable because it fits in a backpack and she could sneak it into Disneyland (they’re prohibited from the theme park). Another talked up the importance of a really supportive desk chair with a vented backrest for long gaming sessions (“Herman Miller Aeron, or don’t bother.”)

Community-building was also a hot topic. "Snugzmeow," a cosplayer who has been streaming on Twitch for about five years, said she's recently made the strategic decision to “pivot to more family-friendly content.” The changeover is attracting a different, friendlier audience: “Gaming is still so toxic for women, and I’m tired of all the gatekeeping,” she explains. She says her audience enjoys both World of Warcraft, Disney-related content and the antics of her cream-and-ginger longhaired Ragdoll cat, Ser Pounce, who has his own Instagram and makes regular cameos in her broadcasts.

Ashleeeeeann, who works at Los Angeles-based Tiltify, taps her platform, reach and community to raise funds for charities, including St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the Wounded Warrior Project. She estimates that her charity streams have helped raise about $20,000 over the past four years. Leann also co-founded a team called Playing with Fire, a collaboration of about 50 players who do charity streams that’s raised about $400,000, collectively.

Despite these achievements and her growing fanbase, she also lost to Omega earlier that day. “He let me get in a few shots,” she says, “But once I got him down to about three-quarters health, he sure didn’t go easy on me.”


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