An invitational eSports tournament at Pratt Community College this weekend has gamers buzzing with excitement, and with college scholarships in the offering nowadays, it is something to pay attention to.
Their focus is intense as players move their characters through the video gaming world of League of Legends. Members of the Pratt Community College eSports team worked on their skills Wednesday afternoon as they stared intently at their computer screens and made comments on the action to their teammates.
As the popularity of eSports continues to grow, PCC is keeping pace with a team of their own. The popularity of the sport has led to a tournament that will run from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, April 6 in Carpenter Auditorium on the PCC campus. High school teams from Pratt, Fredonia, Kiowa County and Fairfield as well as some individual players are expected to attend this high energy event, said PCC eSports Coach Chris Nelson.
Teams will play “Overwatch” during the tournament that is free and open to the public. A big screen will be set up so fans can follow the action. Each team will have six players and two teams at a time will square off in one on one competition. Each team member will have their own computer and will work together to score the most points in the tournament, Nelson said.
“Whoever scores the most points wins the tournament,” Nelson said.
The tournament will be round robin fashion and each team will play at least two matches depending on the final number of teams at the tournament. Each game of the tournament lasts about 10 minutes.
The PCC team will provide a couple of live color commentators. The public is invited to come and watch this free event and cheer on their favorite team.
If time allows, the PCC eSports team, that is helping run the tournament and will not compete, may give a demonstration with the winning team, Nelson said.
The PCC team will provide a couple of live color commentators. The public is invited to come and watch this free event.
The tournament on Saturday is an example of the growing interest in eSports. Nelson said the eSports world championship was televised on the same day as the Super Bowl last year. When the numbers were in, the eSports Championship had more viewers than the Super Bowl. A professional eSports tournament for the game “Overwatch” was televised opposite the NCAA men’s basketball tournament the weekend of March 30-31.
The members of the PCC eSports team can get college scholarships just like other sports. Just like other sports, the team members have majors like nursing, welding, technology and so on.
“eSports has an advantage over the other sports because team members are a lot less likely to get a concussion,” Nelson said.
During class, team members work on improving their skills. Just like other sports, some players are better with offensive characters and others with defensive characters. The students run timing drills and work together to improve their response time as a team. Team members can either log on in the eSports classroom or they can play from their residence hall room. At a practice Wednesday afternoon, one team member was ill and was practicing with his team from his residence hall room.
“You don’t want one person trying to carry a team,” Nelson said.
One advantage over other sports is the team doesn’t have to travel to take part in competitions. They just log on in their classroom and play from there.
“It’s all done remotely on tournaments. You don’t have to travel. That’s the good part,” Nelson said. “We have been invited (to attend in person) but have not participated yet.”
There is no entry fee to participate in a tournament. All eSports equipment is provided by the college.
Pratt High School has its own eSports team and will play in the tournament Saturday. The PHS team uses the PCC facility to practice, their coach is Brandon Wade who competed in eSports when he was in college, Nelson said.
The PCC eSports team meets from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. four days a week. They have had 14 tournaments this year and have won about half. In college level eSports, teams compete from NCAA, NAIA and NJCAA schools. The PCC team had a victory earlier this year over a team from Purdue. Last year, the PCC eSports team took fourth the playoffs, Nelson said.
There are 12 members currently on the PCC team. Dylan Brown from Skyline, Alex Gonzales from Pratt, Aaric Kipp from Greensburg, Colin Bell from Goddard, Erick Estrada from Bisby, Ariz., Garrett Smith from Coldwater, Jacob Crabb of Merrian, Jarrek Henderson from St. George, Juan Sierra from Coldwater, Luke Hurt from Fall River, Nelson Nolan from Ellinwood and Taylor Ray from Great Falls, Mont.
The popularity of eSports continues to grow. There is a proposal in south Philadelphia for a $50 million eSports complex. Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Mo. is has been renamed Hy-Vee Arena and is being converted to support youth basketball on the lower level and eSports on the upper level, Nelson said.