Growing competitive gaming community highlighted at ASU eSports tournament

ASU eSports association and Sun Devil eSports helped Dreamleague host the event Feb. 17-19

The Dreamleague ASU Spring Invitational hosted at the Sun Devil Fitness Complex last Friday and Saturday, brought together competitors of a different kind: gamers.

Dreamleague Gaming is an organization devoted to organizing eSports on the collegiate level. The organization travels from university to university, hosting eSports tournaments with different prize pools, and last weekend, it brought its competition to Tempe. 

The ASU eSports Association and Sun Devil eSports helped host the event with Dreamleague. Members of the two groups roamed the floor throughout the event, shouting out scores and moving teams up their brackets toward victory. 

“It was really a good thing that I ended up finding the ASU esports team," said Jason Salas, a junior majoring in software engineering and captain of one of the teams participating in Overwatch. "You wouldn't think it'd be tough to manage six people, but it's a hassle. We all have different schedules, classes, commitments to our families and relationships. And you have to work around that and then find other people to practice against.”

ASU eSports Association sent two of their own Overwatch teams to the tournament, both of which performed well. 

"ESports, I think, actually kinda brought me out of my shell,” Salas said. 

The Dreamleague event hosted tournaments for League of LegendsOverwatch, Hearthstone, Rocket League, Super Smash Bros. Melee and FIFA. While attendees were primarily ASU students, there were participants from out-of-state and other institutions.

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Tournaments like Dreamleague are platform for students to use their practiced skills in a competitive environment against like-minded players. Students playing on the competitive teams share many experiences with students participating in conventional sports, dedicating much of their time and effort to the game.

“I think it’s great that organizations like Dreamleague are bringing their stuff to ASU … although we have a pretty good reputation in terms of (Division 1) eSports, I still think people don’t really see eSports as a valid market,” said Zack Walker, a freshman majoring in computer information systems who helped host the event. "Not only do I enjoy playing video games, but I also recognize the emerging market that’s coming out of them.”

The floor of the gym was filled end to end with tables, power strips and router hubs to connect competitors to one another’s computers.

“The coolest thing for me is bringing the people who would never normally come to a gaming event out … there are plenty of people here who have never played competitively before,” said Nathan Tsai, CEO of Dreamleague. 

Tsai was at the Sun Devil Fitness Complex in Tempe, hosting and organizing the event, cheering on gamers and ensuring that the rounds went smoothly. 

“Every time we open up a new game, there’s such a large community that we did not expect from that game (showing up)," Tsai said. "This is our first time trying FIFA … there are 46 people over there right now.”

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