Local esports tournament offers an alternative to alcohol on Fake Patty’s Day

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Over $4,000 is up grabs this Fake Patty’s Day and all of it goes on the line at the Heartland Community Showdown.

The showdown is an electronic sports competition held in the Grand Ballroom of the K-State Student Union. Over 160 competitors from across the Midwest will gather on Saturday to compete for gold in a variety of events, including “Counter Strike Global Offensive,” “Overwatch” and “Super Smash Brothers Melee.”

In addition to the competitions, the K-State Esports Club will have virtual reality setups for spectators to play with and gaming computers for them to use as well.

The K-State Esports club, who are also hosting the event in conjunction with Midwest Esports, are an independent student organization. Working alongside students, they have a variety of esports teams including “Rocket League,” “League of Legends,” “Overwatch,” “Counter Strike G:O.” and “Super Smash Bros.”

Former president and current affiliate of the club Sam Smith, senior in psychology, said that as long as they have players they are open to anything.

“We basically compete in every competition that has some sort backing via prize money or scholarship money.”

The club competes in an online collegiate circuit hosted by Blizzard Entertainment, a major game developer and publisher. They compete during the weekends against regional and national universities. Alongside those online competitions are national competitions that the club tries to send teams to as frequently as possible.

A new community

Smith started getting involved in esports during high school while playing “League of Legends” online. During that time, Smith said he wanted to find a local team to get involved with. When he arrived at K-State, he started his search for the campus organization that could best help him with that desire.

“When I found the esports club I was able to join a ‘League of Legends’ team and made some pretty close friends there.” Smith said. “Ever since then I’ve been competing and socializing with the guys and trying to get more guys interested.”

Expanding and supporting the esports community in the Midwest is also one of the goals of the Heartland Showdown, which is sponsored by Koch Industries.

“We want want to be able to grow collegiate esports in a way that helps the Midwest especially,” Smith said.

Smith said he believes that the Midwestern esports scene is “dry” compared to the scene on the coasts.

“We want to be able to use this as kind of haven for people to grow their esports habitations and ultimately host their local events so they can grow their own clubs and hopefully increase the capacity for esports at a collegiate level,” Smith said.

Transitioning towards independence

The K-State Esports club used to be a departmental student organization within the Department of Computer Science. The club transitioned into an independent student organization in the fall of 2018. This transition meant that they no longer received funding from the department

To adjust to the loss of funding, the club began to raise money by selling t-shirts, jerseys and other apparel. The lack of funding does make it hard to travel to other tournaments, Smith said.

Money raised for the tournament has been provided by Koch Industries and individual donors. One donor, Smith says, gave $600 to the Smash tournament pot.

Smith believes that the Fake Patty’s Day tourney will be a success and hopes it will draw in a large crowd for the day.

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