Esports community returns to in-person events with Manitoba tournament series

Manitoba Esports Association hosted its first in-person event since the beginning of the pandemic: a series of tournaments at the Radisson Hotel in Winnipeg.

Esports turn 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 and it it’s growing every single time that we have an event,” said Melanie Penner, executive director of operations for Manitoba Esports Association.

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

Gaming online is very different from gaming in-person, Penner said. The crowds are intense, and that’s why people love it so much, she said.

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

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

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

Patacsil, who’s from Winnipeg, said esports are a social event he takes part in with his friends. His team, Stim Esports, competed in tournaments on Saturday.

He said the experience of being in-person is much different from the experience online. People are more supportive of each other, regardless if they win or lose.

“When you play online against a team and they’re trash talking, it gets a little toxic. It kind of seems like they’re trying to hurt you,” Patacsil said.

“It’s much nicer to see everyone’s reactions [in-person]. Like after we make a crazy play, everyone’s just standing up [to] cheer on each other.”

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

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

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

“We’re a very diverse group. We are always trying to cater to every new fan base that is up and coming,” Penner said, “Hopefully this shines a light and we are able to change the narrative [for] some people who may have not been able to shift their opinion on esports.”

The convention runs until Sunday night.