There has never been a better time to be playing video games in your dorm room. The UW-Stout Esports program has teams for 3 different games: Overwatch, League of Legends, and Rocket League. Each team has a coach and players on a varsity and junior varsity team. Additionally, it has an open cup available for beginners who want to see what the games are about. There are also plans to add teams for Valorant, Call of Duty, and Super Smash Brothers.
UW-Stout competes in the National Association of Collegiate Esports, the NCAA of esports. Founded in 2016, NACE is a nationwide collegiate esports league with over 170 schools, 5,000 student athletes, and over 16 million dollars available to the athletes through scholarships and aid.
The teams at Stout have had a strong start competing in NACE that they hope to build upon, as their Overwatch team placed 32nd out of nearly 200 schools in the nation last season. The Rocket League team placed 14th, and the League of Legends team is off to a 4-0 start to the current season.
Right now, the goal is to build the program up for the future, to be a model for other colleges to follow as esports continues to grow. In an interview with Travis Miller, the adviser and head of Stout Esports, he spoke about how the “number one priority is getting the program off the ground. Esports is super new. It’s uncharted territory. Colleges are just starting to adopt it, and getting ahead of the curb and being one of the first colleges to have a strong program is my goal. I think we’re getting ahead of the game and we can be one of the first colleges to make this a thing.”
To achieve that goal, Travis and those within the program have been working to add more games, a new competition arena opening up February 24th that the players can compete in, and an upcoming camp open to anybody who is interested in seeing what the program has to offer. When speaking with Travis, the excitement was palpable.
“The one thing I want people to know that don’t know about esports is that it’s fun. Back when I was in college, I couldn’t imagine playing video games for the school. It’s crazy that we’re here. You don’t have to be the best player. You don’t have to be the grandmaster, supersonic legend. We have JV teams, we have open cups for beginners. The one thing I would want people to know is that you don’t have to be this amazing player to come in and play for us. If you’re interested, try it out for a semester. Why not? It’s fun, it’s exciting, and if you don’t like it it’s okay.”
Applications for the esports team are currently being accepted for all games. More info can be found on their home page.
Photos thanks to Reed Theship- Rosales