Minneapolis set for esports national stage, featuring Minnesota's newest team
For the first time, professional esports is coming to Minnesota.
Thousands of gamers will be at the Armory in downtown Minneapolis for the inaugural season of the Call of Duty League this weekend. The event will feature Minnesota's newest sports team, the Minnesota Røkkr.
"The way we describe esports is it is the next evolution of sports and entertainment," said Brett Diamond, Minnesota Røkkr COO.
It may not look like the sports you're used to, but it's for real. Last year, NPR reports esports revenue surpassed $1 billion for the first time.
Minnesota Røkkr is owned by the same family who owns the Vikings, the Wilfs. Diamond said these players are part of the new Call of Duty league, playing the popular first-person shooter video game franchise against other teams across the world.
"You're taking a group of people that are the best in the world at their craft and what their craft is is playing video games," Diamond said.
They're perfecting their craft in the team's state-of-the-art headquarters in Eagan.
"Our players practice in the game 6 to 7 hours a day, they watch film, they train, they go to the gym, they eat right, these guys are incredibly dedicated to their craft," Diamond said.
One of the industry's biggest fans is Marcus Erickson.
"I"ve been gaming fan since I could hold a controller in my hand," Erickson said.
Erickson is not only a fan, but he's also working on a business venture to bring a gaming cafe to the Twin Cities.
"I'm seeing it as more of a rebirth rather than a new thing," Erickson said.
When 12 teams battle it out at the Armory to kick off the inaugural season of the league, thousands will be watching the best of the best.
"There's a growing fan base that is very interested in it," Diamond said.
"We're going to watch it live and to me that's really historical," Erickson said.
The event starts Friday and runs through the weekend. Doors open at the Armory at 2:30 p.m. and tickets start at $25. You can find more information on the event here.