Esports community returns to in-person events with Manitoba Tournament Series

The Manitoba Esports Association hosted its first in-person event since the pandemic began: a tournament series at the Radisson Hotel in Winnipeg.

Esports is turning online gaming into a spectator sport as professional video game players form teams and compete in different games.

“There’s a huge community behind it. And it grows every time we host an event,” said Melanie Penner, executive director of operations for the Manitoba Esports Association.

Penner estimates around 200 people came to play or watch the tournaments – more than she expected.

Online gambling is very different from in-person gambling, Penner said. The crowds are intense, and that’s why people like it so much, she says.

“I’ve been to a lot of sporting events and there’s nothing like esports. It’s something you have to witness,” Penner said.

Executive director of operations Melanie Penner said there were more people at the tournament series than expected. (Walther Bernal/CBC)

Gamer Daniel Patacsil hopes to one day become a professional video game player.

Patacsil, who is from Winnipeg, said esports is a social event he attends with his friends. His team, Stim Esports, competed in tournaments on Saturday.

He said the experience of being in person is very different from the online experience. People support each other more whether they win or lose.

“When you’re playing online against a team and they talk bad, it gets a little toxic. It feels like they’re trying to hurt you,” Patacsil said.

“It’s much nicer to see everyone’s reactions [in-person]. Like after doing a crazy play, everybody get up [to] encourage each other.”

Daniel Patacsil’s team Stim Esports took part in the tournaments on Sunday. (Walther Bernal/CBC)

Penner said the Manitoba community aims to be inclusive for everyone.

The Manitoba Esports Association partners with different organizations, such as Lotus 8 Esports, that advocate for inclusion within the video game community.

“We’re a very diverse group. We always try to cater to every new fanbase that comes along,” Penner said. “Hopefully this sheds some light and we can change the narrative. [for] some people who may not have been able to change their minds about esports.”

The convention lasts until Sunday evening.

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