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We Talked to Esports Tournament Specialist Johnny Ryan Weaver

We talked to Johnny Ryan Weaver, an esports Tournament Specialist who has been involved with esports since 2001. He’s worked at the local grassroots level all the way up to major esports companies such as MLG, UGC, Dreamhack and more.

Recently, he partnered with an NBA’s G League team, the OKC Blue, to host an esports tournament to fundraise for Children’s Hospital Foundation in Oklahoma City for an event called the 1UP Open. Esports teams from six colleges and over 20 high schools joined forces to play games and heal kids. The event was such a success that it made the front page of the Oklahoman newspaper!

We asked him a few questions about his experience with local esports and how Extra Lifers can build relationships to activate similarly in their local markets.

Johnny Ryan Weaver

Extra Life: How did the 1UP Open idea come about? And how did you get involved?

JRW: The 1UP Open idea included Extra Life, Oklahoma City University, OKC Thunder Blue, Microsoft and myself; we wanted to combine real sports with esports. I got involved by joining Extra Life last year and helping put on Miracle Con (a local esports and con expo) which had over 600 people and raised about $7,000 USD I believe.

Extra Life: How are you able to involve local high school and college esports teams in Extra Life fundraising?

JRW: I’m part of the Oklahoma Esports League (OeSL) which is a K-12 program. The program is helping high schools evolve their esports and the logistics behind it. I also work with Oklahoma City University (OCU) as their esports contractor to help set up and run events. We are offering scholarships and grant money to winning students for schools to better help with educational costs and funding.

Extra Life: For other cities seeking to engage with student esports teams, how can they build up these relationships?

JRW: Listen to your students, find out what areas in esports they’d like to be involved in (players, streamers, broadcasters, etc) since esports has so many areas to advance in. Find out what titles work best for students and set a budget. Start slow, expand and know huge things are possible!

Extra Life: How are major sports teams like the OKC Thunder/ OKC Blue engaging with esports? How can Extra Lifers build relationships with these teams in their local markets?

JRW: Some cities already have major professional esports teams. For us, the OKC Thunder establishment sees a possible great potential in esports, but they’re still engaging to better what esports is all about. By connecting student esports teams with the Thunder at our 1UP event, it helps illuminate what esports can truly do for gamers and the surrounding community1

Johnny Ryan Weaver’s daughter took home the third-place medal for Fortnite at the 1UP Open

Thanks so much for your time, Ryan! You can follow him on Twitter.

Don’t forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!