When WVU Tech students Patrick McBrayer, Lucas Darnell and Randy Quiggle enlisted support from their friends and classmates and set out to create a new e-sports club for students interested in gaming, they thought they’d face an uphill climb.
When a student organization is launched, it can take a semester or two of pitching the club and building a member base before a group can really take off – but that wasn’t the case for the new competitive gaming-focused WVUIT E-Sports Club, which grew to nearly 25 members in just the first few weeks after its founding this semester.
Darnell, WVUIT E-Sports Club’s Vice President and co-founder, said that the group debated starting the club for some time, but felt confident in moving forward because of the support they received from faculty, staff and students at WVU Tech.
“After confirming our adviser, we simply devised a constitution that met university requirements and sent in an application form to the SGA to be approved. It was that simple.”
Since then, the club has been busy participating in official competitive gaming tournaments and planning upcoming campus events. The group even teamed up with the WVU Tech ACM to run game tournaments during the popular Spring TechLAN event in mid-March, which raised more than $1,200 for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
The organization’s mission is simple: create a welcome, cooperative environment where like-minded students can work together in their common love for gaming. There’s also a major learning component, where members will develop and run tournaments, build their communications skills and keep their grades up to stay active in the group.
“What the E-Sports club offers is a way to get students together who love playing games, but the club wants to emphasize that academics come first. There are also some great opportunities to get involved in competitive gaming, just like what you see professional gamers do online,” said Dr. Matthew Williamson, the club’s advisor and WVU Tech professor of Computer Science and Information Systems.
The club currently maintains teams for two competition-level games: League of Legends and Heroes of the Storm. The Heroes of the Storm team recently competed in the qualifying rounds of the Heroes of the Dorm tournament, which pits college gaming teams from across the nation against one another in a team-based game that has yet to be officially released to the public.
At the end of April, the remaining teams in that tournament will battle it out in a nationally televised competition where the championship team will take home enough to cover their tuition for the rest of their college careers.
“We’re seeing companies hosting tournaments and leagues that are very similar in structure to what you see in professional sports, such as football and basketball. These competitions heavily emphasize the importance of teamwork, leadership, and cooperation as students organize themselves and develop strategies to defeat teams from other colleges,” said Williamson.
Darnell said that the ultimate dream of the club is to make a name for themselves in collegiate-level gaming, but that the group is about much more than competition.
“Gamers compete for the same reason any athlete does. They want to win and show all of the hard work that they have put into something that they love,” he said. “Students interested in the club should also know that anyone can be a part, no matter their skill level. You don’t have to be the absolute best at a game to compete, and competing is definitely not a requirement for membership.”
Want to see the WVUIT E-Sports Club in action? Visit their Game Day event on Friday, April 10 at 7 p.m. in the WVU Tech Student Activities Room. Attendees will be able to learn more about the club, enjoy free concessions, win prizes and compete in Super Smash Brothers and Halo 4 tournaments.