By Noah Pinkham, Contributor
On Monday, September 25, of 2023, the Esports team kicked off their competitive season in their new (temporarily designated) gaming room at 322 Bailey Hall. The word Team is kind of a generalization when the Esports team is made up of many different teams that play different games. To list them all off, we have Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, Counter-Strike 2, EA Sports FC 24, Fortnite, League of Legends, Madden NFL 24, NBA 2K24, Overwatch 2, Rainbow Six Siege, Super Smash Bros Ultimate, Street Fighter 6, and VALORANT. Most of these games can be watched from Twitch, as that’s where they’re being broadcasted from, while other games are waiting on capture cards for gaming consoles.
Specifically, on Monday, the games that were played were Rainbow Six Siege (R6 for short), Counter-Strike 2 (CS2 for short), and Super Smash Bros Ultimate (SSBU for short). The CS2 team played a practice match, the R6 team played against University of Olivet Michigan, and the SSBU team played against University of Albany.
The R6 matches came to a 2:0 result with USM winning, but these games were not at all uneventful. We crushed them in the first match 7:1, and 7:3 in the second match. Hilariously, at some point during the first match, Olivet made us aware that they thought it was a controller only competition, meaning that they were not using the typical mouse and keyboard, which may or may not have contributed to their absolute defeat.
The SSBU team made an excellent performance against University of Albany, a team that has made playoffs on four occasions. According to one user, Lupine, on the USM Esports discord, on match one, USM player Hylian single handedly took six of Albany’s nine stocks before being beaten by Donkey Kong’s exceptional skill, down to the last stock. USM put up an excellent fight during match two, but unfortunately lost to Albany, making the match results 2:0; bringing a win to University of Albany.
The Esports room has recently been decked out with new gaming equipment. According to Esports Treasurer Jake Shaw (he/him), the room has been equipped with 12 Alienware gaming PCs, each with a full peripheral (mouse, keyboard, headphones, etc.) set-up, and monitors with amazing resolution and very high refresh rates. Jake also told me that they’re getting PS5s and Nintendo Switches, each with their own monitors for play. Amazingly, though, as Jake had been telling me, the team came to be what it is now from humble beginnings. He told me that “Last year we were literally just playing, like, from our rooms on our own personal computers.” They really focused on having fun, but through dedicating time (and simply getting better) they found a lot of value through their sport, especially in relevance to Overwatch. He also tells me that last year, due to the athletes’ hard work, they made it to semi-finals on both Overwatch and Rocket League. On top of that, they also won the award for “Club Excellence” last year, which, in tandem with general Esports interest growing, probably attributed the team to becoming what it is today.
The new club room has given access and opportunity of competitive play to those who may have never been given the chance to play otherwise. I asked a couple of players what they thought and how access to gaming PCs has affected their experience as gamers and competitive athletes. For example, Nikolas Rollo (he/him) is a junior who transferred from SMCC and hasn’t had much competitive gaming experience other than Dead By Daylight, but the new gaming room and its desktop computers have presented him with the opportunity to play Overwatch 2 competitively on the Esports team. Nikolas says he likes the room as it “gives everyone a chance to play who might not have a computer.”
Another player, JP (he/him), on the CS2 team, is also pretty stoked with the new gaming room. When I asked him what it feels like to be able to play competitively, he said, “It honestly feels a lot more fun, I guess, since I’m playing with people who are in the same place [skill level] as me. We can coordinate a lot better, especially since solo-queue sucks.” He also told me that it “feels pretty cool to be playing for a university I just got into”, and that playing for USM is his first foray into competitive gaming. Later, I asked him if the equipment available in the room has made a difference to his playing experience, and he explained that it definitely made a difference considering he’d usually play on his laptop. Now, he has access to a gaming PC on which he can continue perfecting his playing skills at CS2. The same is true for many others on the Esports team, and it will be amazing to see where the school goes as the sport continues to grow.