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Prairie STEM eSports

By: Tanya Bachu

Since JuSTEMagine started in 2019, the numbers of groups have kept increasing and increasing. The eSports group is a newer one: all online and led by Mona Lao and Ansh Mishra. The purpose of the eSports group is to organize events to compete with other schools for video games; some of these games include Minecraft building competitions and Fortnite. The events give people the chance to meet, chat, and play with others who also enjoy video games.

When asked what the eSports group is focusing on right now, Mona said, “Right now we are focusing on creating statistics for soft-development skills such as communication, problem-solving, teamwork, etc. and finding sponsors for the eSports events.” To find sponsors for the tournaments, they are planning to try and contact local vendors.

Picture courtesy of Prairie STEM

Mona and Ansh started the eSports group because they loved playing video games and wanted to start a group where people who shared the same passion could come together to volunteer and promote eSports.

As for the events and tournaments, Prairie STEM’s eSports group holds free monthly tournaments for local students in Nebraska and Southwest Iowa. There are two divisions for the tournaments: ages 13-18 and ages 12 and under. Some of the tournaments are #eSports4Good, which is where teams compete for a charity of their choice. The top three teams from the tournament get to choose a charity of their choice to donate to and also receive cash prizes. Prairie STEM donates money to the chosen charities in their names.

There’s lots of preparation that goes into tournaments as Kim Ingraham-Beck, director of eSports at Prairie STEM, explained: “I do most of the prep work. There are several other employees who help out with creating graphics and posting them on our social media. We have signups on CheddarUp. I email participants to confirm who they are playing with and how to best contact them.

Picture courtesy of Prairie STEM

"A day or two before the tournament, I typically send out information and the brackets. On the night of the tournament, we have a Players' Meeting about 30 minutes before to run through the bracket and answer any last-minute questions. We typically begin our tournaments at 6pm. Depending on the game, the number of teams, etc. our tournaments have different run times.”

During the eSports events, students from nearby colleges shoutcast the tournaments. All of the matches are streamed on the main eSports Twitch page. Typically, the format runs as a double-elimination bracket so teams get to play at least two games before being eliminated from the tournament.

If you are interested in joining tournaments or volunteering for the eSports group, check out the website

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