Pro esports team hosts 'homestand weekend'

The crowd was electric, players were in the spotlight and the action came right down to the very end. It sounds just like one of the many sporting events you could see any weekend in Georgia; but looked quite a bit different.

The Atlanta Reign hosted their "homestand weekend" on July 6th and 7th at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre. The Reign are part of the Overwatch League -- they're one of 20 squads competing in the video game "Overwatch," a first-person shooter with six-player teams.

The Atlanta Reign and Overwatch League are based in Los Angeles, which is where most of their matches are played. The plan, according to the league, is to have teams relocate to their "home" cities starting in 2020.

This weekend, however, eight teams came to Georgia to play matches in front of a crowd of around 3,000 in Cobb County. Saturday's highlight was the Atlanta Reign beating the Toronto Defiant 3-1.

"The crowd really got us going," said Atlanta Reign player Dusttin "Dogman" Bowerman. "Especially with them trash talking or booing when Toronto came out. That really set the mood and really gave us a lot of confidence."

Despite being located across the country, there are plenty of fans in the area eager to cheer on their own esports team. Competitive video games are popular online, where services like Twitch often stream competitions to huge audiences. In-person events are starting to grow as well, as fans get a chance to watch players up close and meet them at events.

"The more you learn about the game, you learn why kids are into this stuff," said Reign head coach Brad Rajani. "It's mentally stimulating on a whole other level. You start to fall in love with how beautiful of a riddle the game actually is."

The Atlanta Reign will face off with the Florida Mayhem at 3:45pm on Sunday at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre.