Game on: NCAA esports tournament brings 8 college teams to Florence

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FLORENCE, S.C. (WBTW)– A first-of-its-kind NCAA esports tournament came to Florence over the weekend, with gamers from as far as Michigan showing up to put their skills to the test.

“We were the first NCAA conference, Division 1, 2 or 3, to sponsor esports,” Dave Brunk, commissioner of the Peach Belt Conference said. “It’s up-and-coming, it’s worldwide, it’s growing by leaps and bounds every year.”

After a seven-round online tournament, eight college esports teams traveled to the Florence Center to compete in the championship. They played the first-person shooter “Overwatch.”

“It’s a really hard game, there are so many things that go into it,” Ethan Byrd, advisor for the Kennesaw State University esports team said. “The game really just comes down to playing together as a team and building a team of six players with the best characters you can find to be able to beat the other team.”

Byrd said his players met twice a week to prepare. They would scrimmage and review video from previous matches.

“This is our first time traveling to an event like this,” Byrd said. “We’ve won plenty of other tournaments, but this is our first in-person LAN event.”

The event featured a competition for high schoolers and a main stage with live commentators. Brunk said it was years in the making.

“To walk in and have some of the athletes say, ‘My gosh, this is just like we see on TV,’ you know that you’re doing it right.”

The results of the tournament can be viewed here.

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