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Gigazone Gaming expands for year 3: Annual gamer tournament adds ‘Rocket League,’ ‘Fortnite’

BEMIDJI -- Thousands of gamers are expected at Bemidji’s third-annual video gaming tournament on Saturday.

The Gigazone Gaming Championship will take over the Sanford Center this Saturday. It draws gaming enthusiasts from across Northern Minnesota to test their mettle against one another in e-sports favorites like “Overwatch” and “Super Smash Bros.”

New this year is a tournament for “Fornite,” the massively popular battle royale game, another for “Rocket League,” which is about equal parts soccer game and high-powered demolition derby, and a third for “Super Smash Bros.” “Melee,” the fighting game that pits classic video game characters against one another and “Overwatch,” the ultra-competitive team shooter, will also be featured on the championship’s main stage this year.

Organizers recommend that attendees show up early to grab a spot in each tournament. The “Fortnite” tournament, for instance, only has 150 slots.

“And we expect those to fill up really fast,” said Leo Anderson, the technology experience manager at Paul Bunyan Communications, the Bemidji-based telecommunications company that hosts the yearly championship. Some attendees said they planned to show up early Saturday morning, Anderson told the Pioneer, and one said he planned to camp out there beforehand.

“I don’t know if he was joking or not,” Anderson said Thursday.

Championship organizers have also put together a “Magic: The Gathering” tournament and plan to line the championship with old-school arcade games, too.

But, despite the cash prizes and high-profile competitions, the championship is free to enter and open to gamers of all skill levels. Paul Bunyan Communications staff will provide all the gear necessary for each game, Anderson said. Attendees aren’t asked to bring anything except perhaps a mouse and keyboard or a Magic deck, and even total newcomers can try their hand at a game during more casual moments before or after a scheduled tournament.

“There's no hidden costs or gotchas,” Anderson said. “Just come out and play.”

If you go:

What: The third annual Gigazone Gaming Championship

When: Saturday, Oct. 20; registration opens at 10 a.m.

Where: Sanford Center, 1111 Event Center Dr. NE, Bemidji


Cost: Event is free and open to the public.

Joe Bowen

Joe Bowen covers education (mostly K-12) and American Indian affairs for the Bemidji Pioneer.

He's from Minneapolis, earned a degree from the College of St. Benedict - St. John's University in 2009, and worked at the Perham Focus near Detroit Lakes and Sun Newspapers in suburban Minneapolis before heading to the Pioneer.

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