Esports Symposium and Invitational Tournament Held at Georgia Tech

More than 300 people participated in Georgia Tech’s inaugural esports symposium and esports invitational tournament which was held virtually on December 8, 2020. This event, hosted by Georgia Tech’s Institute of People and Technology (IPaT) and the Office of the Executive Vice President for Research (EVPR), combined two engaging panels discussing the topics of “esports and universities” and “esports and Atlanta,” as well as an invitational tournament of Rocket League contested by Georgia Tech students.

The Georgia Tech athletics department also co-sponsored the event, which was produced by SkillShot Media, a turn-key esports production company, which organized and ran the four-hour event and conducted the competitive, online multi-player video game competition which involved cars playing soccer in a multi-player video game called Rocket League.

SkillShot, based in Alpharetta, Georgia, also provides hands-on training for educators who need a deeper understanding of the entire esports ecosystem. Topics include tournament organization, production, coaching, and program setup. Georgia Tech's EVPR office is supporting these esports educational events as they could lead to new workforce development initiatives within the state of Georgia.

The four competing teams in the Rocket League esports competition consisted of Georgia Tech students who were invited to show their skills and compete for prizes.

The winning team members were:
Tanner Price, undergraduate in computer science
Khalil Tafiti, undergraduate in civil engineering
Alec Webley, dual-enrolled student with his high school

The runner up team members were:
Rithvi Ravichandran, undergraduate in biomedical engineering
Charles Haskell, undergraduate in mechanical engineering
Carson Clements, undergraduate in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences

Each winning and runner up team member was awarded the Oculus Quest 2 virtual reality (VR) gaming headset.

Raheem Beyah, Georgia Tech's vice president for interdisciplinary research, gave the opening remarks as the esports symposium started followed by additional opening remarks delivered by Beth Mynatt, executive director of IPaT.

The first panel at the symposium focused on universities and their impact on the future of esports. The panelists were: Abhinav Venkatesan, vice president of Georgia Tech Esports; Michael Brooks, executive director of National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE); and Lucas Bailey, assistant director of Georgia State University Esports. The panel was moderated by Laura Levy, research director of gaming and esports applied research at Georgia Tech.

The National Association of Collegiate Esports is a nonprofit membership association with more than 170 member institutions. They are developing the structure and tools needed to advance collegiate esports in the varsity space.

The second panel was structured as a fireside chat focusing on the rapid growth of esports and Atlanta’s contribution. The participants were Todd Harris, founder and CEO of Skillshot Media; and Grant Wainscott, vice president of ecosystems for the Metro Atlanta Chamber. Harris’ company Skillshot Media has hosted thousands of esports tournaments, paid out over $10M in prizes for competitive video games and delivered over 1 billion views of esports content. Wainscott is the vice chairman of the newly formed Atlanta Esports Alliance, a division of the Atlanta Sports Council that focuses on attracting and managing esports events and investments to the metro Atlanta region.

“We were excited to host the first esports summit and invitational here at Georgia Tech and aim to build on the event’s success to make it an annual event that brings the larger Atlanta community into the emerging world of esports,” said Siva Jayaraman, director of partnerships at Georgia Tech’s Institute of People and Technology (IPaT).

You can view the recorded event here:

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