LAKE CITY, S.C. (WBTW) — Gamers from across the Southeast competed Saturday in the second-annual Lake City Esports Smackdown.
Players faced off for cash prizes in games like Smash Brothers, Mario Kart and more.
“We have people from North Carolina, South Carolina,” said Savon Whitehead, the head of Lake’s esports said. “We have some people from Virginia. We have a few guys from Tennessee. We even have someone from the Virgin Islands.”
Whitehead, who also goes by “The Duke of Hype,” said the program is active with the city’s youth year-round, even when a competition like this weekend’s isn’t being held.
“We are working on getting after-school programs going,” he said. “We want them to be off the streets and doing something productive.”
Whitehead said in addition to tournament winnings and scholarship opportunities that can come from competitions, esports can teach teamwork, broadcasting skills and more.
“We want to try and keep the kids out of the gang members’ hands and give them the opportunity to expand their horizons in more than just football, baseball, softball or just sitting on the couch,” said William A. Hall, Lake City’s city manager.
Hall said the city recently bought more than $25,000 worth of gaming equipment and plans to eventually house the program in an empty Florence/Darlington Tech building that will be converted into a community center.
“The fact that the city is pushing for it, funding it and encouraging it is a beautiful thing,” Whitehead said.