On the casino floor of the Downtown Grand Las Vegas, in what used to be the high limit room, two men face off in Mortal Kombat XL. It’s the final round of the night’s contest, called "Finish Him! Friday." A $250 prize is at stake.
The two men sit on the edge of their chairs, custom fight sticks in hand, eyes fixed on the screen. Behind them, at least 20 people watch, drink and chat about video games. Just feet away, a pair of slightly inebriated women loudly cheers and claps at the roulette table, but the atmosphere inside the lounge is laid back, a refuge from the noise and neon lights of the casino. It’s a typical Friday night for the Downtown Grand, a hotel that recently went all in on esports by hosting weekly contests, watch parties and competitive events.