Although many sports are suffering from the impact of COVID-19, esports has some flexibility with players being able to play remotely online. Missouri Western’s team has already had a busy semester with tryouts, tournaments and a lot of practice.
On Aug. 24, the Fortnite team competed in their first event, Summer Showdown, with close to 80 other teams. The team made it to the semifinals event. Though they didn’t win, they did compete in some intense matches and considered the event a success.
Christian Konczal, the director and coach of esports, said the Summer Showdown competition was a great beginning to their season.
“First off, the athletes played superbly. Our first competition we made it to the semifinals, which was phenomenal," Konczal said. "The first night we had volunteer shoutcasters who were commentating throughout the three-hour event. We had somewhere between 50 and 60 viewers consistently throughout the night and the chat was popping.”
While the current esports team members are improving every day, the team is continuing to look for new members with their varsity walkout tryouts. The tryouts look at hour-long clips of people playing games with friends or the team to see how they are at the game and how they interact with other players.
Former student at Missouri Western, Luke Theis, returned this semester to be director and CEO of the varsity League of Legends and Rocket League teams. Luke said that the team is looking forward to the completion of the esports arena, which is estimated to be done around October.
“The esports arena will allow all students to just walk in, swipe their card, be given a keyboard and a mouse, and then they can play on a computer for a set amount of time," Theis said. "It’ll also be based on the student's GPA. We don’t want students just coming in and gaming away their life and failing classes. We want them to be successful while being able to enjoy the arena as well.”
Currently, practices are being held online with a practice room to eventually be set up in Murphy as supplies arrive. Each game has a student coach to assist in teaching the games as well, and they are hoping to get students involved in other aspects of esports.
Gabriel Crowther, a business major at Missouri Western and student coach of the Overwatch team, said that he was happy to discover the esports team.
“I first started watching esports probably seven or eight years ago. I've kind of been a fan of different games ever since," Crowther said. "I initially saw some information maybe about eight months back. I just kind of kept an eye out for whenever they released like trial information and kind of went on from there.”
The esports team and coaches have many future events planned ahead and urge anyone in the community interested to watch or play to reach out. They have an active Discord at MWSU Esports and Twitch channel @Griffon_Esports.