Blog & Tools

SD esports state tournament: How to watch, format and more

Students compete in the North Dakota state esports tournament in 2023.
Students compete in the North Dakota state esports tournament in 2023.

The state’s best esports athletes will converge on South Dakota State University Friday and Saturday when South Dakota high school students gather for the esports pilot season's state tournament ahead of its official sanctioning in the fall.

Representatives from 16 high schools and more than 120 athletes will compete for four championship titles awarded Saturday.

The event, organized by North Dakota-based Fenworks, is free to attend. SDN Communications, a fiber business internet provider that offers service in South Dakota and southwestern Minnesota, is a sponsor.

Where and when is the South Dakota esports state tournament?

South Dakota State University is hosting the event in Club 71 of the Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium. Get to the area by entering the west side of the football stadium. Parking is free.

Take a look at the basic schedule:


  • 8 a.m. - Vendor, student & school check-in
  • 10 a.m. - Opening Ceremony
  • 11 a.m. - Chess & Super Smash Bros matches begin
  • Noon - Rocket League matches begin
  • 3 p.m. League of Legends matches begin


  • 8 a.m. - Chess & Super Smash Bros matches begin
  • 10:15 a.m. - Rocket League & League of Legends matches begin

Are tickets required to watch?

The event is free and open to the public. No tickets are required. Fenworks Chief Operating Officer Molly Hane said 1,000 people attended the North Dakota esports state tournament held a month ago.

Which games are students playing?

Teams are vying for a state championship in four titles:

  • Super Smash. Bros (Nintendo Switch)
  • Rocket League (PC)
  • League of Legends (PC)
  • Chess

Chess is played virtually during the regular season, but competitors will use a physical board at the state tournament.

MORE: What to know about esports in South Dakota

Super Smash Bros. is a chaotic fighting game featuring Nintendo and other video game characters. Rocket League is similar to playing soccer but with cars and League of Legends is a battle-arena game where teams try to destroy their opponent's base before their opponent breaks theirs.

Smash Bros. is played individually, while Rocket League has a team of three and League of Legends teams have five players.

Teenager plays League of Legends on a computer
Gabriel Turner plays League of Legends for the Sioux Falls team.

When are the championship matches?

All of the final rounds will be held on Saturday:

  • 9:00 a.m. - Super Smash Bros.
  • 9:30 a.m. - Chess
  • Noon - Rocket League
  • 1:45 p.m. - League of Legends

Award ceremonies will be held on the main stage after each championship match.

Which schools have teams competing?

Sixteen South Dakota schools are sending players to the state tournament to compete for championships in the four titles.

Dakota Valley is the only team with representatives in all four games. Woonsocket, Aberdeen, Flandreau and Tea are represented in three.

MORE: As esports become sanctioned, supporters tout benefits

Multiple teams from each school can qualify for the tournament. Dakota Valley, for instance, has six teams in Super Smash Bros, four in chess, two in Rocket League and three in League of Legends.

Other schools participating include Baltic, Beresford, Deuel, Douglas, Hot Springs, Madison, Mobridge-Pollock, Northwestern, Rapid City Central, Sioux Falls Public and Warner.

What is the tournament format?

Teams will compete in a single-elimination bracket format, with the top seeds playing against the lowest seed, and so on. There are 16 competing teams in each bracket except League of Legends, which features 8.

Positions were determined based on regular-season results.

Which teams standout this season?

A handful of teams went undefeated in their respective titles this season.

Dakota Valley is sending three undefeated teams to state – one in Super Smash Bros., one in Rocket League and one in League of Legends. Flandreau SSBU White was undefeated in Super Smash Bros. and Preston Rounds of Deuel is undefeated in chess.

South Dakota State University esports program
High school esports athletes will get a chance to tour the SDSU esports facilities at the state tournament March 22-23.

What is the esports tournament schedule?

Fenworks has the entire schedule posted on its website. Times are approximate, as some games might start earlier than scheduled if the previous match is done early.

Is there a way to watch online?

Fenworks will stream all the main stage matches on their social media channels under the @Fenworksofficial handle. The platforms include Twitch, Facebook and YouTube. Results will be posted on the Fenworks website.

What will the venue setup look like?

Club 71 at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium offers a wide-open area for spectators to walk around and take in the action. The main stage will feature two 165-inch screens showing the livestream feed. A smaller secondary seating area allows spectators to view other matches that are taking place at the same time. Chess will be played in a separate area of the venue.

Will food be available?

If you want to grab a bite while watching the competition, a special esports event menu features a Chick-fil-A sandwich, chips, fresh fruit, chips, drinks and candy.

Otherwise, the campus Student Union offers several other options and is a five-minute walk to the south.

What else is there to do at the event?

Seven colleges and universities from South Dakota, North Dakota and Iowa will have booths and swag to hand out. Dickinson State is hosting a photo booth. Chess aficionados can play against a friend on a human-sized chess board. Fenworks may also have a drone-flying demonstration.

SDSU is offering campus tours on Friday at 11:30 a.m. and a tour of its esports lab between 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. Friday.

Athletes can access the Miller Wellness Center for free Friday from 7 to 9 p.m. for rec night.