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We visited Wilmington’s first eSports tournament

Theatre N kicked off its game nights with a “Rocket League” tournament.

Rocket League at Theatre N. (Photo by Joey Davidson)

eSports is big business. One budding franchise in the genre is “Rocket League.” The season two finals for the “Rocket League” Championship Series in 2016, for instance, offered a prize pool of $125,000. That prize goes to tournament winners, sure, but there’s money to be made in sponsorships, participation and venue tickets.
Wilmington dipped its toes into the shallow end of the eSports pool last week with its first major game night at Theatre N. Hosted by The Mill and Wilmington U with sponsorship from Microsoft, the evening featured a small “Rocket League” tournament played on six gaming laptops and broadcast on the big screen. There were Xbox Ones in the lobby loaded with games for players and spectators between rounds, and Microsoft offered some swag for participants and prize packs for the winning team.
We were in attendance for the evening of gaming. With the slated start time of 6:00 p.m., the play didn’t actually get underway for around a half-an-hour later. Four or five teams of three players divvied up into brackets, and the tournament started in single elimination style. That is, lose once and you’re done. The first night was a tad marred by technical difficulties, which, when coupled with the later than scheduled start time, meant that gamers spent more time waiting than playing. We, for instance, only played twice over the span of two-and-a-half hours.
Growing pains like that are to be expected for a freshman outing like this one, and everyone present was more than willing to wait in good spirit. We heard some casually say things like, “well, this is night one,” and everyone we asked said that they’d be back if Theatre N does it again.
“We plan to offer these game nights monthly,” The Mill cofounder Robert Herrera offered to the crowd as he kicked the evening off. More than likely, we’ll see another game night come the first week or so of May. A few of the technical wrinkles will likely be ironed out by then, too. It was back in January that Herrera told us we’d see an official gaming night. He told us, “If I’m gonna do it, I’m gonna do it right.”
Between the solid gaming equipment, initial turnout and potential of the space, Wilmington’s monthly gaming night could be a big deal. We’ll keep you posted on the next one before it happens.

Companies: The Mill / Wilmington University

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