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Point Park University Hosts Steel City Showdown


Point Park University Hosts Steel City Showdown

Friday, July 12, 2019

Image courtesy of Point Park University.

Back in March 2019, Point Park University’s Rowland School of Business announced it would be hosting an esports tournament in May. Two big names in the sports world -- the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Cleveland Cavaliers -- were partners of the event. AbleGamers Charity, a nonprofit organization that helps people with disabilities have access to video games, also helped out. The Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation, iHeart Media and Walmart were sponsors.

Tickets cost $5 for spectators, $10 for competitors in Super Smash Bros., and $20 for competitors in NBA 2K19 and NHL 2K19. So, what happened at the tournament? What might this mean for the future of esports in Pittsburgh? We’ll answer those questions and more in this article:

  • An Overview of the Tournament
  • Point Park and Esports
  • The Future of Esports in Pittsburgh

An Overview of the Tournament

The Steel City Showdown occurred May 10-12 at the Pittsburgh Playhouse, Point Park’s own Performing Arts Center. Over 500 people, both participants and observers, came to the event, which featured competitions in three games: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, NBA 2K19, and NHL 2K19. Students, faculty, and staff of Point Park University helped out during the event, volunteering at the ticket booth or posting content on social media.

A picture taken from above shows an audience of at least 50 people watching two gaming stations in the middle of the room.
An overhead shot of the tournament shows participants at gaming stations and audience members watching and socializing. Image courtesy of Point Park University.

Prizes were awarded as follows:

  • First Place: $700
  • Second Place: $300
  • Third Place: $200
  • Fourth Place: $100
  • Fifth and Sixth Places: $75
  • Seventh and Eighth Places: $25

Now, let’s see what the results of each game were.

NBA 2K19

The Cleveland Cavaliers helped with the facilitation of the NBA 2K19 tournament. The winner of the Steel City Showdown NBA 2K19 competition was Jalen Lewis-French, a 23-year-old from McKeesport. He received $700 and some new gaming equipment. Lewis-French dreams of becoming a professional gamer, so this success was certainly a step in the right direction.

Super Smash Bros. 

Super Smash Bros. was the most popular game at the tournament. 202 gamers registered to compete, and 150 fans watched the competition from the main viewing area.

A television screen shows the Super Smash Bros. character Falco and reads "victory."
A TV screen reads “victory” for the Red Team. Image courtesy of Point Park University.

The finals for Super Smash Bros. was held on Sunday, May 12, at the PNC Theatre, which features two large projection screens. Colin “colinies” Landals was the winner of the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate competition.

NHL 2K19

This is the second year that the National Hockey League is involved with esports. They hosted the first NHL Gaming World Championship in 2018. The NHL Gaming Championship features players from the United States, Canada, and Europe, with the winner being considered the best player in the world. This year’s championship just finished up mid-June. 

The NHL figured the Steel City Showdown was a great opportunity to get involved and help host a tournament -- and they were right.  

David Roebuck, the runner-up of last year’s NHL Gaming World Championship, attended the Steel City Showdown. The Pittsburgh native hoped to come out on top this time. He faced Brian Donald, another one of the best NHL 2K19 players who also happens to be from Pittsburgh.

The two had played against each other online multiple times, but the Steel City Showdown marked the first game against each other in-person. The match was a close one and could have gone either way. In the end, Roebuck won, allowing him to advance to the semifinals. His luck stayed with him, as he emerged as the winner of the NHL 2K19 competition.

Point Park and Esports

Point Park University is no stranger to the esports world. “The Wood Street Zombies eSports Club” was established by Ethan Green during the fall 2018 semester. While Point Park was initially upset that the team played under the university’s name, after a conversation with Green, they became interested. Thus, the club was founded.

Also during the fall 2018 semester, students at Point Park University had the opportunity to take a new course -- The Business of Esports. Taught by Charles Berry, J.D., owner and attorney of Charles Berry Consulting, the course is one of the only ones of its kind to be offered in the region. Most of the students who took Berry’s esports class are studying Sports, Arts & Entertainment Management (SAEM) at Point Park.

Berry stands in front of a classroom, lecturing to a class of about 10 people.
Students in Berry’s “The Business of Esports” class take notes during a lecture. Image courtesy of Point Park University.

The fall 2018 semester at Point Park was a busy one. The Rowland School of Business also hosted a Super Smash Brothers tournament on campus, the winners of which gained a spot on the Point Park Super Smash Bros. eSports team.  

Steve Tanzilli, dean of the Rowland School of Business, hopes to expand esports at Point Park in the near future. The club, the course, and the Steel City Showdown are only the beginning.

The Future of Esports in Pittsburgh

Len Komoroski, CEO of the Cleveland Cavaliers professional basketball team, believed this might have been the first esports event gamers from the Pittsburgh area had attended. 

Aside from this tournament, though, there are very few esports events happening in Pittsburgh. The Steel City Showdown was pretty much a test run to see if Pittsburgh could be a city where esports competitions could be held regularly. With over 500 participants and observers at the city’s first tournament, it’s safe to say there is a promising future. 

Pittsburgh is also home to Boosted, a platform that helps gamers monetize their services. If you’re a professional gamer looking to get paid for streaming, reach out to them. They can help you build your brand, get paid, and so much more.

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Friday, July 12, 2019




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