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All Eyes on Esports

Jason Anderson 

In the wake of a global pandemic, ODAC Fall sports for 2020 have been postponed, but what about esports?

Given that the majority of collegiate esports competitions are hosted online, it makes sense that the season could go forward as scheduled, and so it will. 

How does this look for the teams at Shenandoah?

First, let’s take a look at the teams.

Teams competing in NACE (National Association of Collegiate Esports):

Overwatch

Rocket League

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Valorant

Teams competing in PlayVS: 

Rocket League

League of Legends

The Rocket League pre-season is currently underway, but regular season play in the NACE league has begun September 28th and concludes on November 15th.


Shenandoah’s Rocket League teams will also be competing in a league hosted by PlayVs and qualification matches for the CRL (Collegiate Rocket League) which is officially sponsored by the developing company, Psyonix. 

Follow @SUesports_ on Twitter to find out when each team plays and live updates on gameday.  

Joey Gawrysiak, Director of Esports at Shenandoah, stated that he typically strives to travel with teams to LAN (Local Area Network) events every year, but that is not likely to happen in the Fall season. 

“We haven’t made much plans beyond the league schedule that I mentioned, but if something pops up and we are able to travel safely, then we’ll look to do that probably in the Spring,” Gawrysiak said. 

With esports being the only varsity competition taking place at Shenandoah this Fall, the esports program has placed a big emphasis on broadcasting matches this year. 

“We are trying to get our broadcast production up and running, not only up and running, but to be one of the top programs in the country,” Gawrysiak said. 

Shenandoah Esports has a very unique advantage over the majority of other schools with plans of broadcasting matches this season and that is an arsenal of students studying esports in the classroom. 

Students with aspirations of working on a production team, those who just want to do it for fun, or those who need to fill up those work-study hours can get firsthand experience in the state-of-the-art broadcasting studio housed within the new Esports Arena. 

MBA Esports Graduate Student, Zander Merle-Smith is one of those students.

Zander has been at the forefront of the efforts in the Shenandoah Esports broadcast productions as he has helped revamp the broadcast room and plans to cast over weekly varsity matches. 

“I absolutely want to find work in broadcast production after graduation,” Merle-Smith said, “and the experience I’ve been able to gain working at the Shenandoah University Esports Arena has been incredibly valuable.”

You can watch these productions from the comfort and safety of your dorm room, apartment complex, or wherever there is internet access on the Shenandoah Esports Twitch and/or YouTube channel. 

Twitch: https://www.twitch.tv/ShenandoahEsports

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCo25NoZKf38CclfmbYVrLXg

It is important to note that anybody involved in these broadcasts, and really anybody in attendance in the Esports Arena this Fall have some guidelines to follow to ensure that everybody stays safe and healthy.

Coach Zachary Harrington was a little skeptical on whether or not these guidelines would be successful in the Esports Arena, but after the first few weeks of operation, that skepticism seems to have diminished. 

When asked his thoughts on the implementation of the guidelines, Harrington said, “I actually feel really really good about it, better than I thought I would.” 

Harrington went on to commend the students on their efforts in keeping others safe at all times.

“The students have done an amazing job self-policing and making sure that all of the rules are followed,” Harrington said. 

Coach Harrington believes that the lack of traditional sports at Shenandoah this Fall will bring more eyes to the esports program. 

“We’re the only game in town, so that definitely helps,” Harrington said.

These extra eyes are not limited to Twitch and YouTube viewers, however.

Harrington stated that the Division of Athletic Training at Shenandoah has volunteered to do health screenings and other things to help with the wellness of esports players. 

“Not only do I think we’re going to get additional viewership because we’re the only thing happening, but we also have other departments collaborating with us that wouldn’t be otherwise,” Harrington added.

Harrington touched on the expectations he has for the Rocket League teams this year. 

“We actually have three Rocket League teams this year,” Harrington said, “all of the teams are absolutely competitive.”

The Rocket League “A Team” consists of two returning starters in the likes of team captain Evan “Red” Argiro and Noah “$POPS$” Jordan and newcomer Ian “Eazy” Burnett.

Coach Harrington has very high expectations for this team.

“I think that we have the talent and the potential to compete at the highest level and maybe even take the championship,” Harrington said.

With the spotlight on the esports program this year, Director Joey Gawrysiak and Coach Zachary Harrington are very excited to see how this season plays out. 

Once again, you can catch some of the action on the program’s Twitch and YouTube channels as well as live updates on Twitter.

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