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Game On! Area gamers compete in eSports event (video, photo gallery)

BEMIDJI--Weeks of practice paid off for 18-year-old Kevin Lindquist and his League of Legends team, W8 This Isn't Dota, on Saturday at Bemidji's first-ever "eSports" event, the GigaZone Gaming Championship.

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Kevin Lindquist, member of team “W8 This Isn’t Dota,” laughs Saturday during a quarterfinal match of a League of Legends tournament held during the GigaZone Gaming Championship at the Sanford Center in Bemidji. (Maggi Stivers | Bemidji Pioneer)

BEMIDJI-Weeks of practice paid off for 18-year-old Kevin Lindquist and his League of Legends team, W8 This Isn't Dota, on Saturday at Bemidji's first-ever "eSports" event, the GigaZone Gaming Championship.

Lindquist, of Menahga, Minn., along with the other four members of the team, defeated Team BANTZ in the day's first League game, meaning W8 This Isn't Dota was one step closer to competing in Saturday evening's championship round.

"It feels great," Lindquist said. "I'm very shocked that I got this far, to tell you the truth. I'm very happy about this; I'm excited."

Lindquist and his team were scheduled to move on to one of two semifinal matches later in the day and, if W8 This Isn't Dota continued its winning streak, play in the championship match.

The League of Legends tournament was just one piece of Saturday's event, held at the Sanford Center and sponsored by Paul Bunyan Communications. The gaming championship was free and open to the public and included Mario Kart, Move or Die and Magic the Gathering tournaments. Attendees were able to watch the League games in a Sanford Center ballroom as announcers gave play-by-play commentary.

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Brian Bissonette, Paul Bunyan Communications marketing supervisor, said the large number of online gamers in northern Minnesota, as well as the increasing popularity of "eSports" prompted the company to sponsor the event.

"ESports have really taken off and if people aren't familiar with eSports, ESPN and TBS have started to cover eSporting events," Bissonette said. "We certainly thought that this would be a great way to bring eSports to our region, otherwise it probably wouldn't be here."

David May, a 16-year-old gamer from Red Lake, attended the event in order to participate in the Mario Kart and Street Fighter tournaments and said he was happy to see an online gaming event come to the area.

"I think it's wonderful," May said. "I like it a lot. I personally was hoping for something like this to come to Bemidji, just to bring a lot of people together."

Lindquist and W8 This Isn't Dota were planning to spend the rest of Saturday working toward the championship. Lindquist was nervous early Saturday, but happy to play against other skilled gamers.

"I'm looking forward to actually competing against the other players," he said. "I am not used to seeing other people that are a lot better than me or that are around my skill level going against me, so I am very excited about that."

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