Gaming tournament shooting highlights security or lack of it


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — A champion gamer’s decision to open fire Sunday afternoon during a video competition — killing two people and wounding nine others before killing himself — has prompted calls from gamers for more security at esports tournaments.

“It’s very clear that we need to be more proactive for 2019 and beyond,” tweeted Joey Cuellar, the tournament director for the Evolution Championship Series, an esports event that focuses on fighting games.

The tournament is held in Las Vegas and draws some 15,000 people. In March, organizers called the FBI when someone wrote online: “mass shooting (at)EVO18 see you there.”

That event went off without a hitch, but Cuellar also wrote on Sunday: “The amount of undercover law enforcement at Evo was unprecedented, and we will be installing metal detectors for ALL days next year.”

Esports are big business. A Goldman Sachs report in 2017 valued eSports at $500 million in 2016 and anticipated market growth. Entire companies have sprung up to form e-sports teams, and the Milwaukee Bucks NBA team sponsors an esports team (One of their players was injured in Sunday’s shooting). And it’s no wonder that everyone wants in on the action — careers can be made and millionaires are minted. Epic Games announced in May it will provide $100 million to fund prize pools for “Fortnite” tournaments during the first year of competition.

At Sunday’s Madden competition, the tournament was streamed live on Twitch.tv, an online network that attracts tens of millions of visitors, most of whom watch footage of other people playing video games.

This weekend’s “Madden 19 NFL Classic” was the first of four planned events.

According to the EA sports website - the game’s developer — the top two finishers at the Jacksonville event would earn a spot in Madden Classic main event in Las Vegas that’s scheduled for October.

There in Las Vegas, competitors will play for a share of the tournament’s $165K prize pool, with the winner taking home $25,000.

It’s unclear what kind of security was at the event, which was held at a game bar inside a waterfront mall.

Derek Jones of Santa Fe, New Mexico, came to Jacksonville to compete in the Madden tournament and was sitting in a fenced-in patio outside the venue when he heard the gunshots Sunday. Jones, 30, said he jumped the fence and ran.

Jones said he didn’t notice any security —either private security guards or off-duty police officers— at the venue. He said it’s a complaint he’s had with tournament organizers in the past.

“I’ve been telling them this for a while that you need to make the players feel safe,” Jones said.

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