DC gets first online gaming event series, thanks to COVID-19

DC Esports Arena manager Sarah Wagg and Stephen Asencio. Photo credit: Aadithkeshev Anushayamunaithuraivan

There’s been a side benefit to the current pandemic for Durham College esports fans.

The DC Esports Club, along with Durham College Students Inc. (DCSI), has come up with a series of daily online gaming events upon the abrupt cancellation of their LAN tournament in late-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Unofficially called “Gamer Nights,” this online series was introduced on March 20.

“When the opportunity of Gamer Nights presented itself, there was no question about it,” says Justin Scott, the vice-president of DC Esports Club. “I had to do it. The esports community deserved a chance to continue doing what they love best, even in the face of unfavourable circumstances.”

This was primarily done as a compensation for the “6ix” LAN tournament which was supposed to be held on March 30 at the DC Esports Arena but got dropped due to the campus shutdown.

All Gamer Nights events are carried out via the DC Esports Arena’s official Discord server where people go to register, participate, earn prizes or play with other members.

Discord is a community-based platform app primarily for the video game community, kind of like Skype for gamers.

Participants or spectators can join the voice call on the app and interact with all the other people in there.

The daily prize for the tournament is a $50 EB Games gift card, which every person present on the voice call has a chance to win based on a raffle.

The 6ix LAN tournament, which was expected to have the highest attendance of any tournament yet, was not the only LAN tournament that got cancelled.

“We had already planned out so many tournaments and events that we were really looking forward to but ended up having to cancel them all,” says Scott.

According to Scott, after the cancellation of the original tournament, DCSI reached out to the DC Esports Club and asked if the club could “do something about it.”

DCSI also offered to help fund and promote Gamer Nights, provided the club ran an event every day of the week. The series was originally supposed to run for three weeks, however, was continued as the pandemic carried on, according to Scott.

“We’ve done movie nights, we’ve done casual games like Jackbox, we’ve done more competitive tournaments, like League of Legends and Apex Legends, Overwatch, that kind of thing,” says Scott. “So, every night it’s something new.”

Although organizing the series was “surprisingly easy,” he ran into certain challenges while carrying it out.

“The issues I’m running into are like regular tournament issues,” adds Scott. “Like not being able to properly predict attendance, manage timing, tournament brackets and the prize raffles.”

Although the Gamer Nights series is mostly being managed by Scott, he says his staff and club members played their part in helping him out as “it’s a lot to undertake.”

He says this was mostly successful because everybody in the gaming community is tech-savvy.

Scott says he is content with how the tournament was organized and set up.

“Having a school community come together like this, especially for a kind of stand against adverse situations, I personally haven’t seen anything like this,” he adds.

Stephen Asencio is a regular participant at Gamer Nights who has only missed a couple of events and won the raffle once. He says the environment is very informal, casual and “chilled.”

He says he just spectates a lot of the time, since the games that he plays aren’t frequently run in the events. He just likes seeing other people “messing around” and having a good time.

“For me, I think it’s less about the games but more about the community,” says Asencio. “You’re in the comfort of your own home and you don’t have to worry about the virus or wear pants.”

He was upset after the original LAN tournament got cancelled. However, Gamer Nights work fine for him.

According to Asencio, this was a “genius move” and organizing these kinds of tournaments will help the esports community grow.

People looking to join the Durham College’s esports community can connect through their Discord server: