With the team rosters filled, the esports program has begun practice and preparations for the rest of the season.
A total of 25 students were accepted into the program during tryouts which started on Aug. 28 for “League of Legends” and Sept. 4 for “Overwatch.” Team selections were announced Aug. 31 and Sept. 7, respectively. Only students of certain competitive ranks in their chosen game could participate in the tryouts, hosted online through Discord, a voice and text chat application. Since esports teams are typically small, those selected were broken into four groups, with a starter and support team for each game. Both teams will function in the same manner, but the starter teams will have a higher rank than the support teams.
Head coach Greg Adler picked each of the players based on their knowledge of the game and communication skills. Players had to be able to talk to each other during the most difficult moments and be able to handle a loss as well as learn from that experience. Participants also had to have a good understanding of mechanics and the ability to strategize with others to take objectives. Senior tank Joseph Mistrot, who plays under the nickname “Loon,” said tryouts were challenging but exciting once he got into the game.
“I was nervous during the very first game and the first couple of minutes — it took me a bit to work through the jitters, but after that, I got into the zone and was feeling pretty comfortable,” Mistrot said. “I’ve been playing ‘Overwatch’ for 2 years and was experienced with the unofficial student-led organization, so it definitely gave me an edge.”
“League of Legends” tryouts required players to be ranked “Platinum 1” or higher, while the Overwatch teams required players be ranked “Diamond 5” or higher. The starter teams have five players each and support teams have seven. The roles are broken down into top, mid, jungler, support and attack damage carry. Many of the attendees of the tryouts, including junior jungler Karlin Oei, who plays under the nickname “Faith,” had already been a part of student-run clubs on campus. Oei said he was happy to be picked for the team after spending time assisting with League of Legends at UTD, a student club.
“I was overwhelmed with curiosity and excitement when I first heard about the program,” Oei said. “We have the luxury of focusing on competing at our fullest potential, so we’ll see where it takes us.”
Like “League of Legends,” “Overwatch” will have the same number of players on each of its two teams. Overwatch players are broken down into three roles including tank, support and damage. Tanks mitigate damage received, while damage players act as the team’s offense, and supports keep the other two groups alive. Sophomore tank Garrett Porter, who goes by the nickname “Jukebox”, said the team structure allows him to be an important part of the group dynamic.
“I was super excited and had to tell all my friends when they contacted me asking me to be on the team.” Porter said. “As a tank, you’re basically a frontliner, like a linebacker in a football game. You clear the way.”
Adler said with the games being online, setting up schedules and tournaments tends to be more versatile. Seasons follow a format similar to those of golf and tennis, with games occuring in both the spring and fall semesters. For practice, the team will take part in scrimmages with other universities, such as Mississippi State. Practices will also involve starter and support teams playing against each other and will offer secondary team players a chance to move up to the main team.
“We’ll be taking it on a game-by-game basis. Practices will have us watching the logs after and reviewing what we did wrong and what we did right,” Adler said. “Going off that for tournaments, we’ll be looking for schools that challenge us and push us forward as a team.”
The team is expected to head to its first tournament on Sept. 22 for “Overwatch,” hosted by Dallas Fuel, a professional league team.