Dallas—People from across DFW had the chance to be an eSports athlete during the N3rd Street Gamers National Championship Series (NCS) Academy, hosted in the Walmart on Cockrell Hill Street in Dallas from Aug. 28 to Sept. 1.
N3rd Street brought two of the most popular eSports titles on the market, the team-based first-person shooter (FPS) Overwatch and the multiplayer battle royale, Fortnite, to Walmart for people to experience and to compete in a tournament all weekend.
“We have two games today, we have Fortnite and Overwatch,” Christian Gillespie from N3rd Street Gamers said. “Both of them are pretty popular with a lot of different demographics. The Overwatch League has expanded to 18 teams in 18 cities across the U.S. Fortnight just got done doing their big $10 million World Championship.”
Chris Becker, an event organizer from Retail Sports Marketing, said although both games have their own tournaments, the event is designed to be a come-and-go affair.
“Honestly, a lot of these people don’t have time to be here all day,” Becker said. “It’s more of a quick in and out type of thing. But it’s all a huge tournament. We have small prizes for people. We have jerseys for people who are pre-registered, VIP passes and lanyards. We have free snacks, free Red Bull, so it’s just a good time.”
Becker added the tournaments are open to everyone, even those who have never played the games before.
“We are flip flopping from Fortnite to Overwatch,” Becker said. “It’s all weekend from 12 to 6. It’s free to enter. You’re welcome to come down for 10 minutes, and you’re welcome to come down for six hours. It’s whatever you want. We even have professionals here who will teach you how to play these games if you’ve never played them before, so it’s a good learning opportunity as well.”
In fact, one of the main goals behind the NCS Academy tour is to help expose people to eSports and teach them how to play some of the most popular eSports titles on the market.
“This is part of the academy tour,” Gillespie said. “The winners get NCS points, and if they want to move on into the different tournaments, they can use these points to go into the NCS minors and the NCS majors. But this is really more about giving people an insight, rather than getting them on a path to these higher tournaments.
“A lot of these people were just shopping at Walmart and they said I want to give this a try. Now they’ve sat down played on a high-end PC. Hopefully in the future, if we do more stuff like this in this area, they’ll want to come back or maybe see if there are any other events like this.”
eSports is quickly becoming a billion-dollar industry with gaming leagues popping up all over the country, and millions of people watching the games online via Twitch or YouTube. Some players even win as much as $3.5 million from tournaments. Gillespie said one of the reasons eSports is appealing is because it gives people who normally would not be able to complete in athletics a chance at glory.
“There are a lot of people who are disenfranchised from being able to play sports,” Gillespie said. “Some people physically can’t play sports, and some people just don’t have the interest in it. Now you’ve opened that up to a whole world of people. Someone who’s physically disabled, they can’t play sports, but they have that passion; they have the head for it. Now they can live that through their PC.
“This is bringing people out of their element, and it’s not just about being a pro. It’s about bringing people together and really becoming to your full potential, which is why the colleges are now doing it. That’s why you see tournament’s like this. It’s really about hitting that market no one has really ever touched.”
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