A brief glimpse at TU’s Esports teams

Sports writer Matthew Montanio interviews various players about their Esports experience

As I came into the small room filled with screens, I could almost hear the clacking of keyboards as teammates excitedly called out commands within their game of Overwatch. In a way, this casual, collaborative practice embodies a lot of the personality and identity of Esports.

Within the school, the Esports community surrounds multiple groups of relatively small teams of around eight at a given video game. I had spoken with the Overwatch team as well as the Valorant team, and they both had about five to eight playing late into the night.

When asked about why they like Esports, Andrew, an Overwatch player, responded, “I mean, I spent over 1600 hours playing Overwatch! After a certain point of playing, I wanted to actively engage with the game and truly master it. When you spend the time training and trying to hone your skills towards making a game go as smoothly as possible, there is nothing more satisfying than experiencing the zone when everyone is flowing and moving together as one unit.” Brandon, the teammate next to him, added, “Yeah, and there is a special community behind it. I got to meet a lot of new and interesting people because of this, and we’re all working together to improve at this game.”

They had a point, too, about the community. Similar to other sports, Esports favors competition in a friendly medium. Everyone in the community can connect with each other over a passion for the game and excitement with friendly competition.

However, unlike sports like football or basketball that test somebody’s physical capabilities, E-sports instead pushes the brain to its limits. By putting the brain in strange scenarios where the underlying rules of our world don’t apply, where things don’t fall as fast as they should, or with mechanics that don’t exist in a tangible sense. The brain works harder to make sense of it all and to not only navigate these rules but to strategize and outmaneuver opponents in this new field.

“I think one of the biggest misconceptions,” said Isaac, the coach for the Overwatch team, “is that gaming as a whole is easier than sports.” He talked about how every single sports practice has a similar Esports parallel. For drills, players work on muscle memory for certain maneuvers, much like other drills. There are ‘Vods’ in which the team analyzes past games to find ways to improve and adapt their strategy. Finally, they also have ‘Scrimms’ where they scrimmage and have practice games, pointing out flaws and calling out weaknesses. These types of routines differ in execution from what’s conventional, yet they fundamentally serve the same purpose and have the same principles in the organization.

When asked about the impact that COVID-19 had on Esports, there was a surprisingly large hit taken to E-Sports. Blake, a player for the Valorant team, described how the pandemic led to outreach camps being canceled or the funding getting cut from the organization. “Stuff like canceled events kinda killed the hype here on TU. We had a growing community before COVID hit, and when people couldn’t go out as much, we lost a lot of the momentum and support that we initially had.” They don’t know if summer camps are going to be a thing this year, but they remain hopeful.

There are a few ways to get involved with the Esports community here at TU. First, you can join their Discord chat to keep up to date with events and stay in the know. Second, you can follow Twitch or YouTube channels for TU’s esports teams and watch the events online. The teams also have tryouts next semester, so you can try out and join a team for a game you like. Most importantly, you can share the games you like with friends. Esports represent a community of people who connect over the games they like, so sharing your games and being engaged with your community over your hobbies ultimately influences how the community interacts with games.

Post Author: Matthew Montanio