Gamers were out in full force on Saturday for an NBA 2K22 tournament at the Strong Future Technology Center in North Las Vegas.
“The councilman for Ward 5 decided it was a great opportunity to introduce esports to the community out here,” organizer Edward Wells Thompson said. “From there, it was a success, so we decided to do another one.”
Event organizing has been a passion for Thompson for more than a decade. It started with a Call of Duty tournament.
“It was an event we had at a sushi bar and we had one TV,” Thompson said with a chuckle.
Luckily, things have changed, though his mission hasn’t.
“I reach out to people who I know are like-minded and think outside the box in terms of how to bring folks to an esports event,” Thompson said.
Saturday’s tournament featured a youth and adult bracket, raffle prizes, food and drink and gave people a chance to learn more about how esports can extend beyond the game.
“It’s not just for playing esports, but there are so many other aspects to it,” Thompson said. “The production of it, the setting up events, we not only tap into playing, but the opportunity to learn all the other job opportunities that esports provides.”
Several local organizations attended the event, including Vegas Inferno, Storm Rush Gaming, the Nevada Esports Education League and Critical Care Comics.
“We’re all about community and Ed is a really good guy, so we wanted to come out and show support and interact with the community,” Storm Rush founder Salvador Villa said. “I think it’s important to highlight the different kinds of competitive games out there.”
Las Vegas Inferno brought a number of people to the event and was eager to support the cause.
“We got invited and with the city being involved, we want to do more,” Las Vegas Inferno founder Jairo Urcuyo said. “It’s not an obligation, it’s a purpose. Whatever they are trying to do, we want to try to help.”
Las Vegas Inferno, which will hold a blood drive in April, was happy to team up with other local organizations to promote esports in Las Vegas.
“It’s very important,” Urcuyo said. “Whether it be competitively or casually, it’s about getting the word out about esports. There are a lot of kids out there that struggle and they don’t have an outlet. Gaming can be that outlet.”
Thompson also will host a tournament during EVO, which is scheduled to take place Aug. 5-7 in Las Vegas. And, after more than a decade of organizing events, Thompson is excited to continue showing communities what esports can offer.
“I was all in,” Thompson said. “I knew I wasn’t going to make money off this right away. The idea was to introduce it to the kids and to the parents and let them see what their children are doing. That’s what is important to me.”