Mankato’s eSports market finds a new Contender


MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) – Video gaming is getting a whole lot more immersive as the popularity of eSports continues to rise.

eSports continues to make its mark on the Mankato region, as Contender eSports officially opened today, providing a space for gamers and aficionados of the gaming industry to play to their hearts delight.

“What really drew me to Contender was the fact that it was an environment for everyone,” said store owner Mark Zenk. “Like the sign says behind me everyone plays here.”

For Brett Diamond from Version 1, a multi-property esports organization and owned by the Minnesota Vikings, places like these foster a credible foundation to build a future.

“Its always exciting when we hear that there’s more going on in the state of Minnesota in the eSports space, particularly when it involves the high school level and college level and youth programs,” said Diamond. “Those are always good signs of progress where the industry is headed.”

Diamond likens eSports to that of traditional sports.

“Giving that audience, giving those players opportunities to play at a competitive level to participate,” explained Diamond. “Yeah, they’ll always be able to hop online with their friends and jump into matches, [which], you know, [is] kind of the core element of video games; you know not dissimilar from throwing the football around at recess in elementary school. But also giving participants and competitive players at the youth level the ability to come together in an organized environment and replicate that … in a way that is similar to traditional sports.”

At the end of the day, Zenk says Contender is a social gaming event venue, where you can come in with friends and family members and hang out and play together.

“The smiles when people left, the excitement — we had a couple people that left with an Uber,” exclaimed Zenk. “And the next thing you know, the Uber driver is in here signing up, getting a family membership.”

This adds to the growing amount of places offering eSports, including Bethany College and MSU-Mankato.

For a limited time, Contender Esports has a $1 pre-membership rate.



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