World-class gamers competed in front of 1,200 fans and even more online viewers at the Rainbow Six Siege Pro League Season 7 Finals at Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City over the weekend.

The two-day, sold-out esports event might have been built around the virtual experience of playing the tactical shooter video game “Rainbow Six,” but the competition featured very real reactions from both fans and competitors.

“This is the finals, this is the big one so all the best teams are out here to compete,” said Anthony Tortorici, 17, of Ocean County. “There’s a lot of good competition — it’s very exciting.”

Tortorici and others at the event watched as eight of the best teams from North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia took to the stage to compete for a total pool prize of $275,000.

Each team of five gamers competed against each other for the best of three rounds, or maps, in the single-elimination tournament. Along with overtime and timeouts, the competition included announcers and player interviews — much like other big sporting events.

This is the second time Caesar’s Entertainment has hosted an esports event at one of its properties, showing it has been at the forefront of esports growing popularity.

“Caesars Atlantic City was first in the market to introduce a major esports championship event last year when it hosted the Gears of War Pro Circuit event,” said Kevin Ortzman, regional president for Caesars Entertainment Atlantic City. “Building on the success of this event, along with the increasing popularity of esports, we are excited to host the Rainbow Six Pro League at Harrah’s Resort this weekend, introducing our brand of hospitality and entertainment to new customers, who may not have previously visited Atlantic City.”

Kevin “Easily” Skokowski, a 21-year-old from Hamilton Township, Mercer County, competed on Team Rogue — one of two teams representing North America. He said he was glad to be part of the finals this season.

“The Pro League finals are always interesting,” he said. “I like it because it’s actually a really big venue and it’s a really big turn out. It’s the first U.S. Pro League finals, which is really cool.”

Skokowski’s team advanced to the semifinals, but fell to European Team PENTA Sports. Despite a tough loss, he said, Rogue put forth their best effort.

Team Liquid won the final round against PENTA Sports after a tight battle that included overtime in the second round, becoming the first Latin American team to win the Rainbow Six Pro League championship title.

Patrick Finotti, 22, traveled from North Carolina to watch the event with his friends. Finotti said the competition was fierce and he looks forward to seeing what the future holds for events like this.

“I really like the attention esports is getting recently. I think it could be really big in the near future,” he said. “Gaming is growing in general. I’m really excited for the mainstream audience to get into esports.”

Contact: 609-272-7210 KAuble@pressofac.com Twitter @ACPressAuble

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