As esports begins to gain recognition globally, a group of local students are vying to bring the win home as the first team representing UW on a national and international level.
Greg Mittler, coordinator of club sports and camps at UW, believes students are “excited to be acknowledged for the skill set that they have and show it off in a way they haven’t been able to before.”
The esports team from Waterloo has been competing since August, 2020 for three different titles, with gamers at both the undergraduate and graduate levels participating.
“We’ve got Rocket League, League of Legends and Overwatch. So, those are three separate games and then we just have a variety of our undergrad and grad students trying out for all those three titles.” Mittler explained.
Teams are able to compete in various tournaments, and are playing for the opportunity to win scholarships at the provincial collegiate level. This system provides a rare opportunity for newcomers to interact with upper level gamers and gain experience.
“Getting opportunities to network with people in the pro scene or amateur scene -based on what they’ve been in the collegiate- because that’s essentially one of the first steps to move your way up” Steven Quach, esports student manager for athletics, said.
However, this team is making an impact beyond the gaming scene by helping students stay connected in a time of physical distancing. With the COVID-19 pandemic moving most activities to a virtual setting, esports is giving students a chance to foster new friendships.
“Especially with what’s going on right now, I find that gaming is one of the only activities people can do –with almost no compromise -going to an entirely online environment,” Nikolas Drakulovic, UW’s esport club co-president, explained.
“If we compare [esports] with any of the other varsity teams we have, it’s building lifelong friendships, hopefully, while commuting, doing something that you love,” Mittler added.
The process of forming an esports team at UW has been underway for years and Mittler believes this team represents some of the finest talent found within North America.
The tryouts to compete in UW’s esports team ended mid-September, and teams began competing in October.