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Atlantis hosting monthly eSports tournaments

Atlantis Casino Resort Spa is the first resort in northern Nevada to host monthly eSports tournaments.

With triple the expected attendance for the first event in January, it's likely there will be many more to come.

"We were expecting about 20 (people) or so, approximately 60 showed up," Steve Ringkob, corporate director of slot operations, recalled in an interview with NNBW. "We were a little surprised by the response."

Reno Smash Community and Atlantis have partnered up to host monthly gaming tournaments in the resort's Family Fun Center arcade. There have already been three tournaments this year — the most recent one was last Saturday, March 25.

eSports are multiplayer video games played competitively between individuals or teams of players for an audience. Players tend to be college-aged on down to traditional arcade-game ages.

Numerous video game genres can be played competitively from first-person shooting games to strategy games. For international tournaments, prize money can reach millions of dollars. To put things into perspective, the 2014 World Championship for the game League of Legends attracted more than 27 million unique viewers worldwide. That's more than the average viewership for the 2014 World Series.

In this case, Atlantis has been hosting tournaments for two fighting video games in particular: Super Smash Bros. Melee and Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. Viewership for these games is certainly nowhere near the scale of League of Legends, but a significant community in northern Nevada has dedicated themselves to its competitive scene. RSC is the culmination of this dedication.

According to Ringkob, Atlantis has had its eye on eSports for a while.

"We've been talking about this for a few months," Ringkob said. "That lead us to meet up with the Reno Smash Community and to hold a couple of their events."

For RSC, the decision to work with Atlantis was easy.

"I was like, 'absolutely I want to be in there,'" James Davis, 26, RSC tournament organizer, said in an interview with NNBW. "When I heard of the Atlantis opportunity I wanted to make sure it was done to its full potential."

Atlantis offered their venue space at no cost to the group as well as staff support during tournament set up. In addition, the Family Fun Center features the Chicago Dog snack bar and over 100 arcade games.

"In between games, there's definitely that time to wander around and try out the games," Albert Galang, assistant manager at the Family Fun Center, said in an interview with NNBW.

But according to Davis, the biggest benefit for RSC has been the free venue.

"At the Atlantis, when we're running just a $5 tournament that allows us to bring in so many people and provide a good quality event," Davis said. "That's honestly the most attractive part about it for our player base, just the cost."

Davis said that the $5 tournament fee is used in its entirety as prize money. With over 30 entrants per game, that comes out to be around $200 split between top-placing players.

RSC runs nearly every aspect of the event from bringing in all the necessary equipment like television sets and gaming equipment to collecting entry fees to going through tournament brackets.

Ringkob said Atlantis considered other gaming tournaments through groups like Nevada eSports, which focuses on PC (personal computer) games like League of Legends, but concluded that it required too big a commitment in terms of resources and cost expenditures.

"Running those kinds of events with rows and rows and rows of computers is a lot of money, a lot of hassle," Davis explained. "You have to think about Internet options, power — it's kind of a difficult thing to run so they slid us in instead."

It's the nature of the games that RSC plays with easy setup and their history of tournament organizing that made them a good fit for Atlantis.

"Their needs to facilitate an event are not as extensive because they have much of the equipment needed. They were more so looking for a venue," Ringkob said. "We were happy to oblige."

According to Ringkob, Atlantis has not ruled out the option of hosting other games in the future. But for now, the focus is on preserving its relationship with RSC and potentially hosting more frequent tournaments with the group in the future.

"If the demand continues to grow and (Reno Smash Community) is comfortable that their group can bring enough guests here we'd absolutely be open to having more frequent events," Ringkob pointed out.