'Out of the basement': Whitehorse gamers develops Yukon E-Sports Alliance

Brandon Wicke and a few of his fellow gamers started the Yukon E-Sports Alliance to widen the competitive gaming community and get funding for people who want to organize their own tournaments or take part in larger tounaments.

Brandon Wicke hopes establishing non-profit will lead to bigger and better local events

Brandon Wicke, bottom left, and his partner compete at the recent Battle of B.C. esports competition in Vancouver in June 2022. Wicke and some friends started the Yukon E-Sports Alliance in a bid to grow the competitive gaming community in the Yukon. (Brandon Wicke)

An avid Whitehorse gamer is hoping to get more Yukoners involved in esports.

Brandon Wicke and a few of his fellow gamers — all avid Super Smash Brothers competitors — started the Yukon E-Sports Alliance to develop a bigger competitive gaming community.

The group's aim is to be a place for people to find teammates and competitors, share video game events in Whitehorse, and chat with fellow gamers in the territory. It also wants to help local gamers get funding to organize their own tournaments, or do what Wicke and his friends did earlier this month: represent the Yukon at tournaments outside the territory.

Wicke and four of his friends competed at the 4th Battle of B.C. in Vancouver this month where Wicke says about 1,000 people competed.

It was Wicke's first time competing at such a big tournament.

Wicke and his teammate contemplate strategy after a tough loss during the Battle of B.C. esports competition in Vancouver earlier this month. Wicke finished the tournament tied for 129th out of 280 competitors in his category. (Brandon Wicke)

"It was like any sports event I've been to," he said. "[There was] a very passionate and raucous crowd kind of cheering on their favourites."

Four large screens were placed behind the main stage in the ballroom where gamers competed in the Super Smash Brothers game.

Wicke has competed in smaller events and said he was "blown away" by how much better he could get at playing the game.

"And it was such a big inspiration to me moving forward, and I think that's a similar story for a lot of gamers who dip their toes into this more competitive arena," he said.

The main stage, with four giant screens, at the Battle of B.C. Super Smash Brothers esports competition which ran June 10-12. (Brandon Wicke)

Whitehorse has a tradition of hosting "humble" events where gamers meet and play with "a more competitive mindset," according to Wicke.

He's hoping that establishing the not-for-profit esports alliance in Whitehorse will lead to bigger and better events in the city. On the group's Facebook page, it shows there are 39 members so far.

"We're taking it out of the basement," Wicke said with a laugh.

"So, you know, [we're] thinking about sponsorships, thinking about funding through grants and thinking about member-driven kind of sponsorships," he said, adding the group's Facebook page lists weekly and monthly events that are open to everyone regardless of their skill level.

As for how Wicke did in the big tournament in Vancouver, he tied for 129th out of 280 competitors in his category.

"I didn't just get defeated, so I count it as a personal victory," he said.

"But some of my friends competing in Super Smash Brothers Ultimate, I think, really [represented] Yukon very well."

Written by Michel Proulx with files from Dave White