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Game on! Pro video gamers open pop-up play space on Atlantic Ave. in Boerum Hill

Gaming elite: New York Excelsior honchos Ben Nichol and Collette Gangemi.
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A team of professional video gamers opened up a pop-up shop on Atlantic Avenue where experienced nerds can pay by the hour to dominate noobs on top-of-the-line gaming equipment, according to the group’s game-player-in-chief.

“We’re offering the opportunity to have a really truly premium gaming experience over here on some of the nicest computers in the world,” said Ben Nichol.

Nichol, who die-hard gamers may recognize for streaming his gaming exploits as Mr. Bitter on Youtube, now spearheads events and business development for pro-gaming squad New York Excelsior, which set up the temporary NYXL play space between Nevins Street and Third Avenue that features 34 top-of-the-line HP Omen gaming desktop computers, which at roughly $3,000 a piece, are each roughly equivalent in value to a well-maintained 2006 Volkswagen Jetta.

Local gamers can swing by the Excelsior pop-up on Fridays and weekends through Dec. 23, where they can rent a computer for $10 per hour, or $5 for students. The machines are loaded with popular multiplayer games such as Overwatch, Rocket League, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, and League of Legends.

The space is also equipped with Playstation 4 and Xbox One consoles, as well as with retro machines including Nintendo 64, and its creators will host tournaments and such game-related events as cosplay parties throughout its run, Nichol said.

The pop-up also sells apparel, including jackets, shirts, hats, and even jewelry from brands such as Undefeated and Starter, as well as rare merch made by Excelsior’s in-house swag guru, Collette Gangemi — who bears no relation to deceased former Bay Ridge Councilman John Gangemi, and said that the store will offer no more than 300 units of any given item.

“Everything is super limited edition,” she said.

The New York Excelsior squad is an eight-man team of South Korean gamers that represents New York City in a newly formed professional league that plays the first-person, team-based shooting game Overwatch, which kicked off its inaugural season earlier this year.

The city club made short work of its competition in regular season play from January through June, racking up a stellar 34–6 record, but a rival group from Philadelphia knocked the hometown players out of the competition in a crushing semifinals defeat in July, according to Nichol, who said the loss prevented Excelsior from competing for the league’s top prize during the finals at the Barclays Center later that month.

“That was a major drag,” he said. “We really wanted to play in front of a hometown crowd.”

The New York gamers, however, are actually based on the West Coast, because Overwatch’s regular-league play took place at an arena in California, Nichol said. But the team’s owner, real-estate firm Sterling Equities — which created the club in 2017, and also owns the New York Mets — is looking to open a hometown gaming venue, according to Nichol, who said the odds are good that facility will come to the County of Kings as soon as 2020.

“It’s quite likely it will be based in Brooklyn,” he said.

Get your game on at NYXL [472 Atlantic Ave. between Nevins Street and Third Avenue in Boerum Hill, www.nyxlshop.splashthat.com] Open Fri from 2 pm to 12 am, Sat from 12 pm to 12 am, and Sun from 12 pm to 8 pm through Dec. 23.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.
Updated 11:35 am, November 19, 2018
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