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Amid COVID-19, Luxor esports ‘arena’ is now a living room

Updated April 20, 2020 - 2:35 pm

The living arrangement seems ripe for reality TV. But where would you put the equipment?

The HyperX Esports Arena Las Vegas is no longer in an arena, or even a onetime nightclub, at Luxor. Instead, we have five guys is a four-bedroom, 2½-bath, 3,100-square foot rental. For six days a week (Mondays off) the team navigates 15 PC workstations with 20 monitors in a 15-by-25-foot living room.

It’s a nerve center where you try not to get on each other’s nerves.

“We found out right away that Stephon snores,” says Kevin Forrstrom, HyperX Esports tournament director whose name is also on the lease. “It resonates. At first I couldn’t tell if it was the bass from the speakers, or if it was Stephon snoring. But there was nothing malicious about it.”

Probably the surprise here is that has been the only complaint, snoring or otherwise, about this “Big Brother”-fashioned arrangement. There are actually five guys, total, living under stay-at-home orders in the two-story house: Forrstrom, Stephon Millon (noted earlier), Gerard Cana and Justin Carter, the HyperX Las Vegas operation team.

The outlier is Jon Koury, who is not with the company but is a project manager for a construction firm and Forrstrom’s original roommate. Koury is nonetheless important, because he consented to moving three additional housemates into the home last month, helping keep the HyperX exports operation alive.

For those outside this culture, esports competitions are multiplayer video games played competitively for spectators. The virtual-sports industry has been blossoming as a sports and entertainment option during the COVID-19 shutdown. ESPN has carried tournaments, which fans can also find streaming on YouTube and Twitch, among other platforms. Sports bettors thirsty for action can wager on events.

But the HyperX spectator operation was halted at the Luxor (where it inhabits the former LAX Nightclub) on March 14, forcing parent company Allied Esports to move its tournaments online. Allied CEO Jud Hannigan needed to keep his quartet of tournament producers intact, somehow and somewhere.

“We have the world’s premier facility at the Luxor, but we needed to move out, quickly,” Hannigan says. “We had to start thinking about, what does the world look like? Where are we going to go to fill this void in entertainment?”

Forrstrom then offered to the group, “I might be able to run this out of the house. It’s just me and my roommate. I’ve got good Internet. We can all move in.”

Hannigan was willing to play.

“So we got a truck and started immediately pulling gear into this house,” Hannigan says. “They said they would self-quarantine to keep the events together, and through this we have been able to keep up the production.”

Hannigan has arranged food and grocery drops and Uber Eats deliveries. But they have expanded their culinary skills.

“The other night Carter made some broccoli-stuffed chicken,” Forrstrom says. “That was nice.”

The guys knew they would be spending an extended period of time together. They love to work anyway, often hanging for a couple of hours at the Luxor talking about the day’s events.

“We’re kind of lucky to be working this way,” Forrstrom says. “We’re not too cramped, we all get along and we love what we do.”

Virtual but ‘Nasty’

The Rio adult revue “Little Miss Nasty” is offering “Virtual Hangouts,” online, 30-minute parties presented on Zoom and available on the littlemissnastyofficial.com website. The events are are Mondays and Wednesdays, co-starring two members of the “LMN” production. Parties of up to four are welcomed to sign in.

The concept is similar in format to the “Chippendales@Home” series announced last week.

“LMN” producers list the online options: “Chat. Party. Connect. Have Fun. Learn Part Of A Dance. Let Loose. Get To Know Us. Ask Questions. Surprise A Friend. Be A True VIP.”

Prices start at $99 with “special, reasonable requests” costing an additional fee. The troupe can be trusted to decides what is and isn’t reasonable.

Golden Gordie

Headlining Las Vegas impressionist Gordie Brown had just returned to Golden Nugget when COVID-19 hit. He’s since cut and posted a video with an impressive array of characters on his Facebook page @GordieBrownVegas Instagram feed. Jack Nicholson, Jim Carrey, Al Pacino, George W. Bush and “Uncle” Woody Allen are all in the mix.

The collective message is to stay together and remain positive, or as Brown-as-Bush says, “Together! We must remain apart!”

Virtual Cool Hang Alert

The Las Vegas Boneheads trombone band was in the midst of their second CD project when interrupted by COVID-19. Band member Curt Miller has posted a medley of some of the unfinished samples on his Facebook page. Miller calls them “rough mixes,” but they sound good from here. Enjoy.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His PodKats! podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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