Yelling and cheering come from behind the UCC cafeteria room doors where students battle with warriors using weapons that perform unworldly abilities.
This is the Esports room where UCC Esports players go to practice and participate in tournaments. In a corner of the room, two players choose a character from a handful of Nintendo’s most popular and battle against each other, working on skills for the next Smash Bros tournament. On a different monitor, a player stands in the middle of a virtual basketball court playing against some of the best basketball players. Players who don’t like basketball, instead jump into the best high-powered car and play soccer against other players.
The Esports coach for these students is Shaun Marvin, a UCC alumnus from 2010. Coach Marvin says that the games that are currently available for the team to play are Overwatch 2, NBA2K23, Smash Bros and Rocket League for now. He hopes to add a Valorant and League of Legends team if Marvin can get a full roster. The number needed for a roster is different for every game.
“People that are new to Esports this year can’t compete but can still be recruited [and come to practices]. If recruited now they can compete the next season sometime maybe after December,” Marvin says.
Practices are on Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. “Six hours is the required commitment, but the remote practice is highly encouraged as well [along with utilizing the Esports room],” Marvin says.
Is there any scholarship money? “Since we are an official athletic team for the school, there is scholarship money available. We also provide a team of people that wants to see you succeed,” Marvin says.
Players can be part of as many teams as they want, but they need to consider practice times for each game just as a student would consider how many extra hours per credit of study time would be needed outside of class to be successful. “I think in a perfect world that [joining multiple game teams] would require double the practice time, so if you have the time, sure! I’d like students to focus on what they’re most passionate about,” Marvin says.
Overwatch 2, one of the games the Esports team is working on, is a first-person shooter game. Teams are made up of five players who individually choose a character to battle with, such as D. Va, Tracer, Winston and Genji. Overwatch 2 has the most players on the Esports team. One of the players is Rogue Skrip, who has been with the Esports team for two to three years since pre-COVID and has also played League of Legends in the past for the Esports team. Skrip’s favorite part of the Esports team is “having the interaction [for games] physically instead of it being purely online and getting to be a part of a community that is like-minded in enjoying both the art style and function of the gaming industry,” Skrip says.
For many, joining something new is difficult, but Skrip suggests that interested students just come to practice and introduce themselves or just knock on the doors of the Esports room if they see people gaming throughout the day. “We love having people stop by and hang out. If you have any questions, feel free to come by.”
NBA2K23, also known as 2K23, is an Esports game that allows a player to play basketball as a virtual professional basketball player like Michael Jordan, Kevin Durant or Kobe Bryant. Dawson Dumas is one of the NBA2K23 players. Dumas’ favorite part of the Esports team is “that since everyone is a gamer everybody respects you. There are no bad competitions [between players]. Everyone is really encouraging.” Dumas also invites other students that might be interested in Esports to stop by. “Push yourself out there! I know it’s scary. Come to Shaun or one of us, and hopefully, we’ll get you signed up and on the team.”
Smash Bros, another Esports team, is a battle royale game where different Nintendo characters fight again each other. The battles are usually a one-on-one experience, but there are other game modes to practice with. The player can play as Kirby, Pacman, Link and Nintendo’s most famous character, Mario. Riley Stutzman is on the team for Smash Bros. Stutzman explains that being a part of the Esports team helps balance the stress of class. It allows him to “have a little fun in the stress of college,” Stutzman says. The biggest tip Stutzman has for students who want to join the Esports team is “be prepared to play the game you are competing in a lot, because the people you’re playing against probably only play that game too.” Stutzman also suggested that if students are interested in joining to talk to Coach Marvin.
Rocket League is another game that Esports players can play. This game works like a traditional soccer game but the players operate rocket-powered vehicles. Teams are made up of four players.
Players don’t need anything to get started, “just the interest is a good start and being able to recognize that you’re really good at a game,” Marvin says. Students who are interested can review the Esports webpage.
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