Loud cheers erupt among the crowd of family members and fans as the final three contestants in UNCG’s Spartan Clash featuring Fornite battle inside the UNCG Esports Arena and Learning Lab to see who will be crowned the champion. Gathered around giant LED screens streaming the tournament in Moran Commons, they murmur and cheer, not knowing who will end up as the winner.
Even the announcers can’t call the game because the battle is so fierce.
In the end, a champion is crowned. Michael Jacoby, Jr., also known as Trey Fo Vortex, from Davidson Davie Community College, earns bragging rights, a Lenovo gaming PC, $500, and a year’s supply of Pepsi. He beat out 45 other top Fornite competitors from North Carolina, all high school and college students.
“I’ve never been through anything like this,” says Jacoby. “Coming into the last game, it was very close, and we didn’t know who exactly was gonna win. That was amazing.”
Spartan Clash featuring Fortnite was a solo-player Fortnite tournament open to high school and college students. Competitors took part in online qualifiers with the top 45 players competing in the UNCG Esports Arena and Learning Lab in the semifinals and finals. The tournament was part of UNCG’s first E2Weekend (Esports+Education) that took place October 28 and 29.
The tournament was a huge draw for the more than 186 high school and college students from across the state who registered for this chance to show off their Fortnite skills, meet other competitive esports athletes, and experience the 3,300-square-foot UNCG Esports Arena and Learning Lab first-hand. With 48 gaming PCs, three gaming console bays, and Oculus Quest 2 headsets, the facility was well-equipped to host the tournament.
“The Arena is crazy,” says Jake Shults, a senior at West Stokes High School who goes by JHunterz in Fornite. “When I first walked in the environment I was nervous, but once I found my seat, I was just ready to go.”
For many, the Spartan Clash featuring Fornite was their first time competing in an esports event.
“I have never done an esports tournament at all,” says Ethan Cassidy, AKA TTVBoastz_, a freshman at Eastern Alamance High School. “My favorite part about competing is the people. I get to play with people in person, meet people inside and outside of the game, and learn more about the game.”
For anyone looking to get into or learn about competitive esports, UNCG is offering another E2Weekend January 13-15, 2023. It will include an additional Unreal Engine Accelerator Experience, and a Spartan Clash featuring Rocket League.
“Just come to Spartan Clash, believe in yourself, don’t get too nervous, and you’ll do fine,” says Jacoby.
For more information visit esports.uncg.edu.
Story by Alice Manning Touchette
Photography by Sean Norona