CARY, N.C. — In October 2020, 23-year-old Caleb Smith and his father Vinny Smith opened Contender eSports in Cary. It is a franchise based out of Springfield, Missouri. There are currently four Contender eSports locations open around the country, but this is the first location in the Tar Heel State.

What You Need To Know

  • Esports stands for electronic sports

  • The U.S. legally recognizes esports pros as professional athletes

  • Kids of all ages can compete and earn money through esports

The venue provides a space for gamers to play their online games individually or in groups. There are also tournaments held throughout the month, and some people travel hours just to participate. 

“We have people come not only from all over North Carolina, but from Virginia, South Carolina and Georgia as well,” Caleb Smith said. 

The business is thriving, even amid the pandemic. When they first opened they had a capacity of 48 gamers. Now they can have 96, and it’s common they hit that cap. 

“I’ve always had a love for games, but I never imagined that esports would be a legit thing. I’m very glad that I get to do my passion every day,” Smith said. 

Smith owns the rights to a 10-mile radius around Contender eSports in Cary and hopes to one day open another location in the Triangle.