Chicago Park District to co-host its first esports tournamenton December 16, 2020 at 10:49 pm

The Chicago Park District aims to co-launch its first ever esports video game tournament.

The NBA2K21 tournament — a free, online-based program — is scheduled to take place at noon Dec. 22, with limited in-person opportunities at park district offices at 541 N. Fairbanks Ct..

The event aims to connect teens — 13 to 17 years old — on a virtual platform during the COVID-19 pandemic, where they can compete in a single-elimination, 32-player bracket.

The tournament will be played on both PlayStation 4 or PlayStation 5 along with Xbox One consoles.

Each participant must be a Chicago resident and have access to an Xbox or PlayStation console, a copy of NBA 2K 2021, a stable Internet connection and an access to Zoom, the video conferencing website.

Chicago-based video gaming experience company I Play Games!, the tournament’s co-host, was founded by Kevin Fair, a Morgan Park High School graduate.

Here are the registration links for each consoles:

The public can view the tournament via Twitch.

The program, which will include 64 slots for participants, plans to incorporate I Play Games’ virtual workshops focusing on exposing students to careers in esports, competitive gaming, how to successfully host a tournament, and college esports scholarships.

Despite debate over video games’ validity as an actual sport, interest in online gaming has skyrocketed as the genre is now considered a lucrative career path where gamers earn college scholarships and make millions of dollars.

In 2018, the Illinois High School Association recognized video gaming as an emerging high school sport. And Chicago’s Robert Morris University launched a varsity esports program in 2014.

About 200 U.S. colleges offered $16 million in esports scholarships during the 2018-19 school year — three times the amount offered in 2015, according to recent studies.

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