KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) – Hy-Vee Arena has been revamped and ready to take on the latest trend in sports: competitive video gaming.
Esports were part of the remodeled venue's mission, so this weekend it's hosting its first major gaming tournament.
Imagine transforming a basketball court into a different kind of playing field.
Nick Engstrom goes by the name Nick the Nerd when he's gaming, but on Friday he was organizing one of KC’s biggest events for people who enjoy the world of virtual sports.
“It is a hobby, but it can be taken seriously,” he noted.
Meanwhile, Jonathan Imler was preparing to showcase the latest and greatest technology.
“The great thing about these controllers, they're brand new,” he said. “They do finger tracking.”
There's a place for retro gamers, too. Keri Wing is a reigning pinball champion.
“Pinball is still out there,” she said. “It never gets old. There's always a game out there you can learn.”
When the NEXTECH KC convention boots up this weekend, everyone there will be ready to compete.
“We're bringing the best in the region to come and play in these tournaments,” Engstrom said.
The event was moved to Hy-Vee Arena this year.
“The location is good,” Engstrom said. “The remodel is really nice.”
Plus, there are people out there who want a front row seat. Esports have become very popular and that’s why they are moving into venues that allow hundreds of people to watch the action.
“You can feel the pressure,” Engstrom said. “You know people are watching you play.”
It's the first major tournament of its kind in the venue since its remodel.
“This is a growing industry, a billion-dollar industry,” said Woody Carter, the Hy-Vee Arena sales manager.
Carter mentioned how esports are an important part of the arena's future.
“We're versatile,” he said. “We can host traditional sports as well as egames.”
From pinball wizards to PC prodigies, it looks like virtual sports are here to stay.
“We want to be able to showcase that esports are going to be a big deal in Kansas City,” Engstrom said.