Millions of us jump online to game with friends across the world every night. But one of my favorite gaming moments ever was playing at an MLG tournament for Rainbow Six: Vegas years ago. Meeting the voices I played with every night.
This was back when Halo 3 was still the top shooter. Hell, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare had not even come out yet. eSports was still a baby compared to the juggernaut it is today.
But flying out to a tournament isn’t feasible for many of us. That’s where Microsoft comes in.
Microsoft is bringing a small taste of competitive gaming to a Microsoft Store near you. Well, sort of near you depending on where you live. Sorry Alabama peeps, the closest Microsoft Store is over in Atlanta.
Solo matches kicked off last Friday with Duos firing up on May 18 and Squads on June 15. Microsoft isn’t handing out any big checks for first place, but you can snag some gift cards if you outbuild the competition.
Here’s how the schedule looks for the next couple of months (matches start at 5:30 pm local time).
Solos – Every Friday, April 20 – Friday, May 11
Duos: Every Friday, May 18 – Friday, June 8
Squads: Every Friday, June 15 – Friday, July 6
If you get a chance, head out to one of these Fortnite Fridays. Playing with a bunch of other people in-person is a blast. And who knows, you might score some bragging rights.
As for Fortnite’s eSports ambitions? Twitch streamer Ninja held a Fortnite tournament over the weekend in Las Vegas and broke his own Twitch record for viewers. 680,000 viewers tuned in at one point to catch Ninja’s tournament. The Verge has a fantastic write-up chronicling the event and talking to some of the players who flew out to Vegas to participate.
Tencent, who acquired the distribution rights for Fortnite in China, is also laying the groundwork with a $15 million investment in eSports (including marketing and infrastructure).
I caught a piece of Ninja’s tournament over the weekend, and I have to say, they did a fantastic job putting it together. Fortnite has solidified itself as a part of pop culture, but it may even push eSports to a whole new level.