By Andrew Beers
DeSales is suiting up as they take on a whole new program in their athletic department, eSports. ESports consists of popular competitive video gameplay, usually between professionally paid teams. Recently, on a national scale, eSports has been growing rapidly on a collegiate level. DeSales has finally joined the bandwagon and is not only proud of starting the varsity program, but will be opening tryouts for all hardcore gamers on campus.
DeSales will participates in the National Association of Collegiate eSports (NACE) and have a team for “League of Legends” and for “Overwatch”. “League of Legends” is a multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game and requires five players to strategically maneuver the arena to destroy the other team’s base. Teammates will have to work together to defeat the other team by taking down the opposing team members. “Overwatch” is a simple fantasy shooter in which six teammates compete together against other teams. Players must attack the opposing team members until time runs out. There are other game modes in the video game, but there is no information on which modes will be used in competition.
“I’m excited! I think there’s a lot of space for female representation to increase,” said Karen Ruggles, professor of computer sciences and eSports program manager. The eSports program will be DeSales’ first co-ed varsity team. Teams will consist of both men and women as they work together to develop their gaming skills as they prepare for competitions. These student athletes will be treated like other athletes on campus and will be obligated to follow DeSales’ rules as well as their league’s rules.
An eSports facility will be setup in Dorothy Day and will include equipment for gameplay and several rooms for coaching and prep work. This facility will be both for practices and competitions. Access to the facility will only be allowed to the team, the coach, and the program manager. Students are not allowed in the room for spectating. A Twitch livestream will be available to students for viewing.
“It’s not just about the competition. It’s about sportsmanship, it’s about being competitive and taking advantage of that moment to touch other people about more information,” said Ruggles, explaining how the program will be a growing experience and a process to raise awareness for a cause. The DeSales eSports team will decide in the beginning of their season what purpose their gameplay will have. The team will use it to draw awareness to their cause and will attempt to hold fundraising events to raise money.
The first season will be in the Spring of 2019 and will feature the game “League of Legends”. “Overwatch” will be introduced in the Fall of 2019. There are other games in the league that could potentially be introduced into the program. This is a new experience that the athletic program here at DeSales is taking on in an age of technology.