UNT to compete in varsity esports with new program starting fall 2018

UNT to compete in varsity esports with new program starting fall 2018

UNT to compete in varsity esports with new program starting fall 2018
May 02
13:00 2018

UNT will officially compete at the varsity level in esports beginning in fall 2018, with four teams for the games Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, League of Legends and Overwatch.

Tryouts for the new varsity esports program took place throughout April 2018 and there are plans for more tryouts at the beginning of the fall semester.

“[The varsity program has] kind of been in development for about a year, is my understanding,” the university’s esports coordinator Dylan Wray said. “Really, the entire process has taken about three [years], from a growing student movement in the gaming community that was taking shape and it got onto the president’s radar and basically, the Division of Student Affairs was charged with figuring it out and understanding the world of esports.”

Wray said that when the Division of Student Affairs realized there was a huge gaming community at UNT, they put money into it and created The Nest, an esports and game design space in Chilton Media Library.

The varsity program took shape about six months ago, according to Wray, when staff from the Division of Student Affairs and recreational sports attended an esports event in Colorado.

“One thing led to another after they actually saw what esports was all about,” Wray said. “And not just the preconceived notion that it’s a bunch of people playing video games in a basement or something.”

Students try out for the varsity esports team Sunday afternoon playing Overwatch. Kathryn Jennings

The plan for the program is to compete in esports competitions and tournaments.

“Those four teams are going to kind of be the starter package and we’re going to get [the National Association of Collegiate Esports] certified, so we’re going to join the 68 universities that are NACE certified,” Wray said.

The National Association of Collegiate Esports is the governing body of esports in colleges, according to Wray. It sets basic guidelines that are similar to NCAA guidelines but are specifically for esports and ensures esport gameplay is fair.

“Being certified will open us up to other tournament circuits that we would [not] have access to before,” Wray said. “We’ll be playing in Tespa tournament series for a lot of our games and we’re looking into possibly doing others but the other objective is to do one-shot events.”

Esports is different than video gaming in that esports has three central attributes, Wray said: ease of accessibility, enjoyment in watching and natural skill.

“It’s a couple different things,” Wray said about what makes a person a good esports player. “For me, what I like to identify in people are balanced people in stressful situations … the people that are able to remain positive under stressful situations are certainly the people that are really, really good players. I think IQ plays a lot into it, you know if you have solid reflexes and a decent IQ, you can tackle a lot of games.”

Computer science freshman Joseph Fergen tried out for both the Overwatch and League of Legends esports teams.

“I’ve been playing video games since I was really young so I kind of just got into it [esports] early,” Fergen said. “And I’ve played regular sports too and I’m just a really competitive person, so this kind of just flows really nicely.” 

Information systems freshman Dallin Russell tried out for the Overwatch team because he said he ranked #300 in America in 2016 and wanted to bring that to the university.

“Literally anyone can do it,” Russell said in terms of what he liked about esports. “Literally people from the most able-bodied to someone with extreme disabilities … it’s literally open to anyone.”

Featured Image: Emily Head, Josh Intondi and Dallin Russell play Overwatch at the varsity esports tryout Sunday afternoon. Kathryn Jennings

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Lizzy Spangler

Lizzy Spangler

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