SoCal gamers react to Jacksonville shooting as OC arena is set to host tournament

Monday, August 27, 2018
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A mass shooting in at video game tournament in Florida on Sunday has shaken the online gaming community, as a sports arena in Santa Ana is set to host one in a few weeks.

SANTA ANA, Calif. (KABC) -- A mass shooting at a video game tournament in Florida on Sunday has shaken the online gaming community - all as a sports arena in Santa Ana is set to host one in a few weeks.

eSports Arena is housed in a relatively nondescript building in the downtown part of the city. In just three weeks, it's where a regional qualifying round for the Madden NFL championship series will be held for west coast qualifiers.

The event is a gaming competition that's very similar to the one held in Jacksonville, where a gunman opened fire and killed two people and wounded nine others before taking his own life. The shooter was believed to be 24-year-old David Katz of Baltimore. EA Sports' website listed a player named David Katz as a 2017 championship winner.

RELATED: Suspect, 2 others killed in Madden tournament shooting

One of the two victims killed was identified as a former Calabasas football player, according to the school. Elijah Clayton was said to be consistently one of the best in competitive Madden, according to the EA Sports website.

eSports Arena did not comment on the shooting, but did tweet they were "incredibly saddened" by the event and the "gaming family is strong."

A witness told local television station WJXX that the shooting started after an argument over the tournament. ABC has not been able to independently verify that claim.

Competitive gamers were competing for a $5,000 prize in the Madden NFL Classic in Florida and a chance to head to the finals, which will be held in Las Vegas.

RELATED: What are competitive gaming eSports tournaments?

Management at the Santa Ana location said they will hold a team meeting about the local tournament this week.

While the gaming room remained open to the public on Sunday, gamer Andres Hernandez explained that just like in sports competition, playing can be extremely fierce.

"Tensions are going to be high, especially here. Sometimes there's money involved, sometimes some of these people - that's their whole life - so it's understandable to hear something like that, unfortunately," he said.

Whatever is being said inside the game is also being heard around the world, since competitions are streamed online to viewers at home.

"There's certain rules when you go to these events -- obviously, leave the drama at home. If they start sensing that stuff like this is about to occur, they're pretty good about keeping people away," explained gamer Andres Hernandez.

The Madden Classic tournament in Santa Ana is expected to be held Sept. 15 and 16 as a west coast qualifier for the finals.

"Madden NFL 19" is the 30th installment of the popular NFL video game series developed by EA Sports which is released each summer before the start of football.

"Madden NFL 19" was released about two weeks ago.