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Given the competitive nature of video games, it isn’t surprising that eSports has become a major industry. With players competing on a global scale to become the best of the best, it’s unsurprising that at UM-Flint, a group of hardcore gamers has united to compete for titles of excellence in the world of collegiate eSports.
With the popularity of major games like League of Legends and Dota 2, along with CS:GO and other games similar, it’s no wonder the competition would find itself at UM-Flint. The competitive nature of these games has comfortably found its way into the UM-Flint campus.
At UM-Flint, the infectious bite of competition and recognition for gaming excellence has taken hold. Founded in Fall 2020, the team started off strong, and has grown to 66 players since. They are now looking to compete in Fall 2021.
One of the team’s first sponsors, WolfVision, a manufacturing company, recently gave away over $90,000. This funding will be providing UM-Flint’s eSports team with high class gaming furniture like chairs and desks, Alienware gaming PCs, 24 inch gaming monitors, streaming equipment, and jerseys.
Jason Gooding, the team’s coordinator has high hopes for the coming years. “Going forwards I’d like to tighten things up––more in person practice, getting the times acquainted with one another and playing in the lab as often as possible,” Gooding said.
The UM-Flint eSports team is the only University of Michigan eSports team, and currently represents only the Flint campus. Though it is the first team, it’s possible that UM-Dearborn and UM-Ann Arbor teams will be formed in the near future.
Jacob Brumley, a sophomore Computer Science major who plays Valorant, a first person shooter, for the eSports team, sees the organization as a first-time experience to competitive gaming. “Gaming has always been a big part of my life and I heard UM-Flint was making an eSports team, so I decided to have a crack at it,” Brumley said.
Brumley sees growth as what should be the main focus of the esports team, believing that with more participation, the team will see more success competitively and practice-wise. “I definitely want more people, right now we’re struggling to have substitutes and a B-team to practice with. I want more people to get involved with us, and I think when campus opens up a lot more students will see eSports as an opportunity to get involved,” Brumley said.
With the funding for a lab coming Fall 2021 or sooner, many of the UM-Flint eSports members are excited to use the new lab as a way to test their skill and grow their cooperation with one another.
Collin Clark, a sophomore Mechanical Engineering major who plays Rocket League for the eSports organization saw joining as a great opportunity to game with his friends and get competitive within the Rocket League community. Clark also sees a positive future for the eSports team. “Esports is definitely becoming more popular with games like Rocket League and League of Legends. If we get more people into the program I think we’d really start to get strong practices and probably win some tournaments,” Clark said.
While eSports may be foreign to UM-Flint students who aren’t interested in video games, the popularity of the industry and growing influence of video games on popular culture could push eSports into a spotlight similar to that of the NFL or MLB. With major gaming teams like SKT and CLG winning international competitions, the opportunity for competition is increasingly growing across American colleges and universities.
With national teams competing for the best of the best title for games played all over the world, UM-Flint has decided to put itself in the ring and see what it can bring to the world of video game competition and excellence.
Tyler Chapman, a sophomore Computer Science major and team captain of the Rocket League team has nothing but praise for the group. “I wanted to join because I knew I wanted to get involved on campus and I loved Rocket League. When I heard there would be a team for it, I was really excited to be a part of it,” Chapman said.
Chapman has goals for the eSports team that he hopes to see come to life before he graduates. “I want a strong reputation as being an outstanding organization, I want teams to be more populated and get more teams filled up. A legacy of excellence to keep people joining, keep membership high,” Chapman said.
With membership growing and a competitive season coming in the fall, the UM-Flint eSports team is looking to recruit more savvy gamers, win tournaments, and make a reputation as an excellent organization on campus. “We’ve done so much already and it’s only going to get better from here. Our first year has been a huge success, especially with COVID-19, and I really just can’t wait to see where we go from here,” Brumley said.