As the fall semester began, the idea of creating a competitive eSports team at Minnesota State University, Mankato was just that: an idea.
Two months later, students are being invited to tryouts to compete in tournaments for “League of Legends” and “Counterstrike: Global Offensive.”
The program started with a few students wanting a more competitive environment within their own community at the Maverick Gaming Community, a registered student organization. Lead Coordinator of the MGC, Andrew Weinzierl, connected with a few university administrators to develop a new school-sponsored competitive gaming organization.
“It was very well received by the university,” said Weinzierl, a senior majoring in philosophy, political science, and sociology. “We were able to literally, in the matter of months, go from this is an idea, we want an eSports program, to now we’re going to execute on it.”
The program is going into its first year of competition in the titles “League of Legends” and “Counterstrike: Global Offensive,” (“CS:GO.”) Students are currently being recruited to compete in the spring semester for University League of Legends and National Association of Collegiate eSports’ tournaments in “CS:GO.” Students can register at esports.mnsu.edu.
Head coach of eSports, Jacquie Lamm, has begun the recruiting process for both games. Current and prospective students can apply online and have a chance at being invited to a tryout for the upcoming season. The first tryout for an on campus “League of Legends” team is taking place Oct. 24 at the Drury Invitational. The event will be streamed on the university’s official Twitch channel (twitch.tv/minnesotastatemankato). Lamm’s goal is to have a set roster by Oct. 30 and begin practice soon after.
“With the introduction of the Varsity program, students can cheer on, watch on Twitch, and hold viewing parties for their universities gaming teams,” Lamm states. “We want to grow the community and offer something else for students that want to go here.”
A major component in the process of implementing the Varsity eSports program is the grand opening of the eSports training facility. The ribbon cutting of the training facility took place on Oct. 2, with appearances from President Richard Davenport, Vice President Mark Johnson, along with several other individuals who made this plan come to fruition.
The facility that is located in the basement of Wissink Hall and contains 20 Alienware desktop computers, headsets, computer mouses, and two Nintendo Switches. The facility also comes with a broadcasting room to stream the team’s games, and a review room, where teams will go to review recent games, strategize and get ready for their next competition.
Due to COVID-19 the training facility can only allow up to seven people in the facility at a time, but students can reserve time slots to use these computers on the website.
The next step for the varsity program is to look at some new titles that are being considered for a competitive team on campus. Those titles include “Call of Duty,” “Rocket League,” “Super Smash Bros.” and “Valorant.”
Header photo courtesy of Sam Tran.