By Ms. Brittany Nelson (IMCOM)November 27, 2019
As a prize for winning preliminary esports tournaments, eight Soldiers and four Army National Guardsmen spent the weekend of Nov. 8-10 in the Dallas area, participating in esports activities and attending the Salute to Service NFL game.
The preliminary worldwide Soldier esports showdown tournaments were hosted online for each directorate of Installation Management Command: Readiness, Sustainment, Training, Pacific and Europe. An in-person tournament was also held at Fort Hood.
The grand prize for the group of 12 included a tour of Complexity Gaming headquarters, in Frisco, a Dallas Suburb, meeting and learning how professional esports gamers train, a final tournament of Madden NFL 20 against each other, and seats in a suite at the Salute to Service NFL game between the Dallas Cowboys and Minnesota Vikings.
"Complexity has an amazing facility and a great group of people," said Sgt. 1st Class Robert Williams, a member of the National Guard. "They went above and beyond to show us what it would be like in a day of the life of an esports professional."
Williams competed in the Sustainment directorate to earn his way to the grand prize.
The service members received a tour of the Baylor Scott and White Sports Performance Center, where the Cowboys and Complexity gaming professionals train, to learn about performance testing.
The final Madden tournament played at Complexity was livestreamed on Army Entertainment's Twitch channel and won by Staff Sgt. Charles Massey.
"It was one of the best weekends I've had with the Army," said Massey, who is stationed at Fort Lee. "I have been trying to get myself out there on the main stage and show that I can do this. For me to win proves that all the hard work pays off."
Also in attendance at the final tournament was a group of Soldiers from Fort Hood who were bussed up for the event thanks to Complexity.
"My favorite part of the trip was the day of the finals tournaments," said Massey. "After I won a lot of the service members from Fort Hood came up to talk to me and asked me for tips."
As part of his prize, Massey got to meet Dallas Cowboys alumni Danny McCray and played a game of Madden with him and Drini Gjoka, an esports professional.
Massey works with the Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers Program to put on tournaments for single Soldiers at Fort Lee.
"I will be talking to my sergeant major to tell her about my experience and let her know that when these kind of events come up we need to let our Soldiers go," said Massey.
The group attended the Salute to Service game Nov. 10 and watched the Cowboys play the Minnesota Vikings from a suite. Massey, a season ticket holder for the Cowboys, enjoyed the game.
"We knew we were going to the game but they kept everything else a secret," said Massey. "We got picked up by a limo and parked in the back where the players park. They never told us where we were sitting. It was so intense."
Before the game, military tribute videos were shown on the Jumbotron.
"I think the Salute to Service game is a positive thing," said Williams. "Most service members do not go looking for attention, but when appreciation is shown through companies and civilians it is definitely appreciated."
The National Guard partnered with Family Morale, Welfare and Recreation to put on the Madden NFL 20 and previous esports tournaments.
"I think esports is a great retention tool for all three components of the Army to show that we support gaming as a recreation," said Master Sgt. Jory Stevenson, regional marketing manager for the National Guard Bureau.
All 12 service members received Play Station 4 gaming headphones and Massey, the tournament winner, received a Play Station 4, a copy of Madden NFL 20, Complexity and Army esports jerseys and a commemorative coin.
The group included active-duty Army Soldiers Sgt. 1st Class Robert Williams, Staff Sgt. Charles Massey, Cpt. Robert Floeter, Spc. Jacob Zydel, Staff Sgt. Jessie Gomez, Spc. Terry Asihene, Pfc. Tyce Windle and National Guardsmen Sgt. 1st Class Wayne Gadson, Staff Sgt. Jason O'Brien, Staff Sgt. David Brownella and SPC Taylor Jackson.