On Friday, Carroll County’s newest gaming lounge hosted just its latest tournament for gamers of all ages that it has organized since opening just over a month ago.
Battleground Lounge, located inside the TownMall of Westminster, has hosted about eight tournaments so far and almost 5,000 people, co-owner Anthony DeJesus said. Battleground hosts several tournaments a week, Friday through Saturday, including throughout the summer.
The staff chooses the games for the tournaments depending on what’s the most popular.
“So recently, we did a poll on social media — on Instagram and Facebook — and the ones that got the most likes and the most comments for, we’ve started putting on those tournaments,” co-owner Mike Borris said.
The game for Friday’s double-elimination tournament was certainly a popular choice: “Fortnite.” The winners are determined by how they fare in two brackets.
“So, there's a winner's bracket and the loser’s bracket. This is a duo tournament, so two of them will play another random two-person team that we select, and they'll face off, and if one team loses, they go into loser’s bracket, but they still have the chance to come back to the winner's bracket,” Borris explained. “They would have to lose twice to be out of the tournament — they'd have to lose in the winner's bracket and lose in the loser’s bracket to be knocked out. The points go by kills and placement. So, it's one point per kill. And then first, second, and third place get ranked for a certain amount of points.”
“Fortnite” is a battle royale shooting game where the goal is to be the last one standing in each round, which are set on a large island that features varied environments.
To participate in the tournaments, gamers can either register online or in the store. On Friday, Battleground had a total of 10 teams; seven teams registered online, and three registered at the door.
The grand prize for Friday’s tournament was $200, four times the entry fee, and the second-place prize was a $100 gift certificate to Battleground. Prizes vary depending on how many people sign up.
“If there’s 10 people in a tournament, we might just do a winner-takes-all. So it’s worth coming out for the people that want it,” Borris said. “We also want to give out gift cards so that people can still at least get something back for it.”
The business was recently chosen as a finalist for the Carroll Biz Challenge, a pitch-off between five businesses in the style of “Shark Tank.”
Gamers at the Friday tournament also said they like having a place like Battleground to game and socialize.
Twins Lacy and Zachary Newhouse, 16, are frequent gamers from Westminster and have recently started going to Battleground for tournaments. According to Borris, they are skilled — for instance, Lacy won the previous tournament they hosted.
“So, the first time, it was very intimidating because there was older people here and there was not a lot of kids,” Lacy said. “But in the second time, there’s a lot of kids, so it felt like more of a community here.”
Lacy’s brother admitted to his sister’s skills in the earlier tournament — along with his own high placing.
“I didn’t win first place because she took first place both times, but I did get third last time and she of course beat me,” Zachary said. “She knocked me out of the game.”
Players at the gaming lounge on Friday have taken a liking to it since it first opened its doors in May.
“They’re the best staff here, and they let you in and you just play all you want,” Lacy said. “You get to meet new people here, and it’s great.”
“It’s a sweet place,” Jeremy Romanelli said. “It’s got a lot of good things coming up.”
“There’s a lot of stuff closing in the mall, and it’s nice to see something else being built and put to good use,” Brett Blizzard said.
The lounge has also been hosting birthday parties, which can be booked either online, in store or by phone.
They are even considering starting a league and an after-school program for kids to come and play after a day in the classroom.
“So, we're working on after-school programs right now,” Borris said. “We’re not sure yet whether we're going to do like a pickup-type thing from school where they can come in and play till the parents get off. And we're also working on leagues, same thing like with soccer, baseball or anything where they can come in a couple times a week. They have teams where they practice. They learn new games, they practice the games and then they compete. Teams compete against each other every weekend.”
Their owners want to give kids a safe place to hang out.
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“We want to turn this place into a safe haven because instead of them running around out there in the street, we’d rather have them in here with us,” DeJesus said.