CANTON, N.Y. (WWNY) - The St. Lawrence University E-Sports Team just completed their first year of competition at the varsity level, posting an 11-7 record and making it to the finals of the National Association of Collegiate E-Sports.
It is an impressive accomplishment in the eyes of Overwatch team coach Kyle Jicha.
”We, you know for a team, I think had only been playing together for about 9 months and not having talent that was recruited specifically for playing for this. You know, essentially a team of walk-ons, although I wouldn’t want to designate them as that per se, you know we did really, really well,” said Jicha.
The idea of E-Sports at SLU has been in the works since around 2010, and Jicha says around this time last year he formed a committee to get the ball rolling to make it a varsity sport.
By March, a team had been put together but the pandemic hit, which stopped nearly all athletic competitions except E-Sports.
”Fortunately for us, you know, provided that people have access to their own equipment to play at home, we were able to continue with practices. We continued with practices and scrimmages with other universities throughout the summer. We really felt like we were in a good spot,” said Jicha.
The team was looking to compete in the ECAC and the National Association of Collegiate E-Sports, but needed to be officially recognized by the university, which happened in September, making E-Sports the 35th varsity sport at St. Lawrence University.
The 18-20 students that make up the team compete in 2 different game titles: Overwatch and League of Legends.
”E-Sports in general is kinda the wild, wild west. There’s no- it’s not like traditional athletics that has NCAA, that has all these rules and regulations and this is how you do it. You know, something in the E-Sports world can change from one day to the next, so it’s a lot of very fast paced, seat of your pants type of environment,” said Jicha.
Another way E-Sports isn’t like other traditional college sports is the participants, with both young men and women playing on the same team with 30-40% of the Saints roster females.
Jicha says E-Sports is one of the most naturally diverse student groups on campus.
“E-Sports, it really is an opportunity for people who- to really have a level playing field. It is the one sort of sport where you could have someone who’s got a physical disability, maybe someone who can’t walk or run,” said Jicha.
Jicha says that E-Sports makes his players not only better competitors but better people, helping them take away lessons that they can use in their future careers and for the rest of their lives.
”They learn so much about teamwork, leadership, there is an incredible amount of you know physical dexterity that has to go into that. There’s a lot of sort of opportunities for people to take skills to other areas. It’s not just “oh, I know how to play this game” Communication skills, things like that,” said Jicha.
Lessons Jicha hopes serve his players well in competition and in the world after college.
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