Gamers brawl for cash in eSport competition

(From right) Dexton Graham, CEO and founder eSports Jamaica, with two members of his Best In JA: Fighterz Brawl fighting games tournament team, Delvano
Graham, operations officer and Marlon Smith, tournament co-ordinator.

Best In JA: Fighterz Brawl Round 1 fighting game tournament organized by eSports Jamaica at the Area51 Gaming Lounge, St Andrew, had a prize package of $100,000 and gamers came out in their numbers aiming to win their share.

“We say round one because we plan to keep other rounds of this video game fighting competition. This [competition held in January] is the first one for the year,” Dexton Graham, CEO and founder of eSports Jamaica explained.

Best In JA used three games, Dragon Ball FighterZ on the PC, Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros Ultimate and Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 on the Xbox. Dragon Ball and Naruto Shippuden had $30,000 up for grabs and Super Smash Bros Ultimate had $40,000. Each amount was divided across the top three finishing positions.

Dragon Ball FighterZ, kept those playing it enthralled with its flashy action style reminiscent of the source anime.

“Pizza Hut is on-board with us again. They supported C.A.G.E. last year August and they’re now supporting the Best In JA fighters games tournament. They came here earlier to give out some pizza, interact with the players and just to vibe with them to understand what is going on. They also contributed to the prize pool to show their continued support for this growing niche market that is eSports in Jamaica,” Graham said.

Entries were open to all, amateur or professional alike with no age restriction.

“The whole eSports thing is trying to expose talent, and encourage persons to play video games professionally. So we don’t restrict anything. You determine your skill level and the only way you can grow is if you compete against persons who are the best. Right now we have persons who have been playing Smash Bros. for years. They are highly skilled in the game and came out to prove their prowess,” Graham added.

The tournament was set up in a bracket format for each of the three games. Registered competitors had to lose twice to be eliminated while playing the best out of three, up until the grand finals where it became best out of five. The whole event was handled by Graham and his team using eSports management software. All three video games couldn’t be avoided as their frantic on-screen action always drew the eye, especially when the characters were in the right hands. Sonouvio Walker led the Super Smash Bros Ultimate leaderboard, winning $20,000 for his efforts. Rasheed Lawrence collected $15,000 as he bested all in Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4. Alex Isaacs was the Dragon Ball FighterZ champion and took home $10,000.

While Dexton was happy that Pizza Hut has joined the eSports scene, he hopes that Best In JA series of competitive video game tournaments will draw in more of corporate Jamaica.

The popularity of Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and the intensity of its gameplay meant it drew the most attention all competition long.

“I think we need to do more locally as tournament organizers to reach out to the players to get them to come out and keep a track of the numbers. That way we can show the growth and the potential to corporate entities,” he said.