TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Tampa’s first esports academy is set for its official grand opening the first weekend of February, providing educational classes on various technologies and games, along with competitive tournaments.
Esports Players Club (EPSC) is the city’s first-ever esports academy and tournament venue, founded by two Tampa natives, brothers Alex and Josh Matzkin.
The venue, located at 1802 West Kennedy Boulevard, is a location where guests can take classes on individual games, content creation, video editing, and more to develop skills to become professional esports gamers or streamers on platforms like Twitch.
Every top esports game is available at EPSC, including Call of Duty, Fortnite, Super Smash Bros., NBA 2K, Madden, FIFA and more.
Esports Players Club was founded by Alex Matzkin and his brother when Matzkin realized just how fast the competitive gaming market is growing.
“I came up with this concept about a year ago when I started to notice a lot of colleges were adding esports teams to their offerings,” he said. “There’s about 200 colleges in the United States right now that have esports teams. There’s about $20 million a year in scholarship that goes to those teams. So it’s really becoming an avenue for kids to get into college with scholarships and really have a future in a competitive video game environment, which is really, really cool.”
Membership to Esports Players Club is like a gym, with two tiers.
Membership plans include a base membership for $149.99 a month with “8 tokens” for classes, tournament entries and guest passes, in addition to unlimited free play, priority registration for tournaments and other perks. An unlimited membership is $199.99 a month with unlimited “tokens.”
Day passes are also available for $29.99 a day.
The club will host nightly competitive events, along with large weekend tournaments offering scholarship funding to tournament winners.
Matzkin said they’re making gaming an even more social experience here in Tampa.
“We’re really just trying to be an awesome community center here for people that are in to video games, they want to meet other people that have the same interests as they do. Have fun, be competitive and really learn something here,” he said. “This is a place where we have the opportunity that the community around us can come in, it’s a new experience for a lot of people to have this sort of social gaming atmosphere and just create a really cool culture here that I think a lot of people will really enjoy.”
The environment Matzkin plans to create with Esports Players Club is something he hopes will translate into a student or gamer’s home life, as well.
“I think a lot of kids, they come home, and they just go right up to their room and they start gaming, and they lock themselves away for the rest of the night. Here, we can be a place where kids come, they game, they have fun, they learn something and then when they go home, it’s time for family and schoolwork and chores,” he said.
Esports Players Club will be holding a grand opening weekend event Feb. 4-6. Friday will be an open house where tours and free gaming is available all day. Saturday will feature an Apex Legends tournament with $2,500 in prizes awarded to the top three competitors.
Sunday is “influencer night” where parents and influencers alike are invited to join a discussion on the future of esports.
“This is a place where we have the opportunity that the community around us can come in, it’s a new experience for a lot of people to have this sort of social gaming atmosphere and just create a really cool culture here that I think a lot of people will really enjoy,” Matzkin said.
Esports Players Club encourages gamers to bring their own devices if they choose, such as headsets, keyboards, mice and controllers, but they do provide equipment on site. They are also checking guests’ temperatures at the door, as well as providing masks for those who wish to wear one. Gaming equipment is sanitized after each use.