Esports cuts the ribbon

Category:  News
Friday, September 20th, 2019 at 11:45 AM
Esports cuts the ribbon  by Shayma Musa
Esports head coach Chris Hower, speaks at virtual ribbon cutting. | Jamie Heinrich

New athletic program debuts on campus

The new Edinboro University esports program was officially welcomed to the athletics department on Sept. 16 at what the department termed a “virtual ribbon cutting.” The program has been in development since the fall of 2018 and was initially brought forward by swim coach, and now director of the venture, Chris Rhodes.

“This program isn’t only going to help from the enrollment standpoint, but it will also help paint Edinboro’s name in a positive light,” said Rhodes at the ceremony.

The esports program will partake in nine games to begin. Currently, the games being played are: “League of Legends,” “Rocket League,” “Hearthstone,” “Overwatch,” “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate,” “Fortnite,” “Apex Legends,” “Counter-Strike: Global Offensive” and “Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege.”

According to Rhodes, rosters have been for the most part finalized, with Head Coach Chris Hower saying that they are still nailing down final players for the “Apex Legends” group.

“We went through the tryout process for the past week and a half...we have our competitors and we have two subs per team,” said Rhodes.

Hower is the head coach for the esports program and brings experience as a nationally ranked “League of Legends” player. “The tighter the roster gets, the more practice and synergy the team will build,” he said. The “Rocket League” group had their first bout Sunday, however, the game crashed during the match, leading to the tournament managers postponing the game until a further date. 

“We are in the process of registering for tournaments. The unique thing about esports is that we can register for multiple tournaments at any time. So, for example, swim[ming] has a set schedule of 16 competition dates. Esports is different. We are going to be registering for bigger tournaments like the “Overwatch” tournament, however, we might register for a tournament two weeks before it happens,” explained Rhodes.

Additionally, he said that there is no fee attached to registering for the tournaments on the university’s end.

According to Rhodes, there are currently 40 players in the esports program, however they are looking for 45 players total. These students must meet the same GPA and academic requirements as athletes playing more traditional sports within the athletics program. At this point however, players are not being offered scholarships, although this might change in the future, “We’re working on it (obtaining scholarships). We’ve secured some funding for that; again they are not getting full rides or anything like that, but our plan is to be able to offer scholarships,” said Rhodes. He continued to explain that when teams win tournaments, the prize money goes toward scholarships for the esports program.

Hower added: “The university has a few thousand dollars worth of scholarship money available, however we have not finalized the criteria for who is eligible for that. It could largely go toward team captains. It depends. We will go forward and see what their grades are toward midterms, and it is something that could be disbursed at the beginning of next semester instead of this one. It’s all still being decided.”

One hope is that the rise of esports programs and Edinboro’s participation will help them reach new kinds of students.

“I’ve talked with a number of parents whose kids are looking at coming to Edinboro, and what we’ve done is given those kids an opportunity that they wouldn’t have before,” said Rhodes.

“In particular, one mother said, ‘my son isn’t an athlete, an academic, he’s not into music, and he’s not good at art, he’s just a student that has done well at gaming.’ What we’ve done [with this program] is give him a platform where he can be successful. He wasn’t even looking at a four-year college, and now he’s coming to Edinboro in the fall.”

Follow the esports program as the tournament schedule is being finalized at gofightingscots.com.

Additional Photos:

Esports head coach Chris Hower, speaks at virtual ribbon cutting. | Jamie HeinrichTryouts for the esports teams where held early in September. | Ben McCulloughNine game teams will be a part of the inaugural competition team. | Ben McCulloughThese games will be: League of Legends,” “Rocket League,” “Hearthstone,” “Overwatch,” “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate,” “Fortnite,” “Apex Legends,” “Counter-Strike: Global Offensive” and “Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege.” | Ben McCullough
 
Tags: esports, news

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