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First professional esports event coming to Utah

First professional esports event coming to Utah

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SALT LAKE CITY — Gamers from across the globe are heading to Utah's first professional esports competition at the end of September, event organizers announced Tuesday.

"Some of the top players around the world are signing up," said Justin Truong, co-founder of GameTyrant, the company hosting the tournament. "You’ll see a lot of passionate gamers who really love their game."

Esports, also known as electronic sports, are multiplayer, competitive video gaming events. Game genres like fighting, first-person shooter and multiplayer online battle arenas are common for esports competitions.

"Esports is essentially a professional way of playing video games," Truong said. "My parents always told me to stop playing games, stop wasting your time, and I always had a feeling in my heart that it was going to be good."

The GameTyrant Expo, or GT-X, runs Sept. 29 through Oct. 1, a three-day tournament at Vivint Arena. Organizers expect between 8,000 and 10,000 people will attend, including players from Mexico and Sweden.

"The gaming community in Utah is really loyal, really dedicated," said Josh Patel, GameTyrant co-founder and creator of FantasyCon. "Wherever there’s gaming, there’s going to be eventual esports teams at this level. So we figured we’d be the first to do it."

GT-X features a prize pool of more than $100,000 in cash and awards, including $30,000 for "Super Smash Bros. Melee" and $30,000 for "Super Smash Bros." Wii U competitions.

"Super Smash Bros." tournaments usually reach no higher than $20,000 in prizes, Truong explained. He hopes the expo will make the competitions a little more mainstream.

"It’s going to have one of the largest prize pools that 'Smash' has ever seen," he said. "('Smash' players) usually play in basements, in small stores. They’ve never gotten a whole NBA arena for three days."

Organizers hope the top 20 international "Super Smash Bros." players will attend the tournament.

"Everyone really wants to see us push 'Smash Bros.' into the next level. So far, no one has been able to step up and do that. We hope to be able to help that community and bring them a big event," Truong said.

GT-X joins several geek gatherings already happening in Salt Lake City, including FantasyCon, Salt Lake Comic Con and Salt Lake Gaming Con.

"We already have so many people who are into this scene and like it,” Patel said. "We’ve seen more and more teams already commenting and talking about getting together."

The major tournament lineup includes 10 other tournaments, including popular games such as "League of Legends," "Hearthstone," "Rocket League," "Tekken 7," "Street Fighter V" and "Injustice 2." Each competition has a prize pool of $5,000, and tournaments will run in a double-elimination or two-stage format.

"Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite" is one of the newest games at the expo. The game releases two weeks before the event, and GT-X will be among the first to feature it a professional competition.

"We're excited about bringing this event to Utah," Truong said. "Looking through our registrants, we have people from all around the nation and all around the world who are coming and already registered."

Second place "Super Smash Bros. Melee" player Hungrybox plans to attend, Patel said, along with TSM ZeRo, the No. 1 "Super Smash Bros." Wii U player.

"GT-X is kind of the holy grail for the event at the Vivint Arena, and that will be an annual event," Patel continued. "We want to get to the point where we have regionals and maybe hold those quarterly at a little bit smaller venues."

GameTyrant partnered with Video Game Boot Camp to provide content and high-quality broadcasts for GT-X.

Event organizers also teamed up with veteran esports players to prepare "Super Smash Bros." tournaments. Bassem "BEAR" Dahdouh is tournament organizer for the Wii U competition, and Matthew "MattDotZeb" Zaborowski is tournament organizer for the Melee tournament.

"There’s a lot of stuff on the West Coast, there’s a lot of stuff on the East Coast," Truong said. "But Utah’s just a great hub."

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Ashley Stilson


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