What is Esports?
On the North Central University website, it says, “Esports (also known as electronic sports) are organized video game competitions. Gamers may compete as teams or individually in competitive video game tournaments.” The website also mentioned the arena that would be offered for playing which, “…features 25 gaming desktops with Ryzen R9 5900x processors, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 graphics cards, and 32GB of RAM. Plus, synchronous 10 GigE wired internets.”
North Central University did a collab with Elevation Youth based in North Carolina. “In April, Mike Knipe and President Scott Hagan flew down to North Carolina to meet with Elevation Youth’s Esports team and director, Jon Rush. Rush wrote on Twitter about the meeting: ‘Fantastic trip planning wild things.’”
NCU students who are currently a part of the Esports program answered some questions and what their thoughts were when they first heard of NCU’s Esports program opening. Braden Davenport, who has always loved sports since he was a child, and only would play video games as a hobby for fun during his free time, was interviewed along with Takia Thomas. Thomas has always been a huge gamer and has loved playing video games. Down below are both Davenport’s and Thomas’s answers.
What were your thoughts when you first heard NCU was developing an Esports program?
“To be honest, when I heard about it, I was not happy. I was not alone on this. The majority of students at NCU were upset about it because there was so much money going into it and not into the other sports here. I disliked it, even more, when Mike Knipe had decided to cut Lacrosse from North Central. Mainly because the players of Lacrosse got no say about the future of our sport here at North Central. Also because there was so much money put into Esports and the majority of us LAX players felt that we were not valued by NCU. We felt that if NCU put in the effort as they did with Esports we could have grown bigger and better. Lacrosse was more than just trying to win games. Unfortunately, we did not win any games, but the thing we valued the most was the community that we had built.” – Braden Davenport
“I’m a huge gamer and was interested in how popular Esports has become in the gaming community. So, when I heard the announcement back last spring that NCU would have Esports as a part of athletics, I was elated. It would never cross my mind to think that esports would have been an option to be involved in. I am honored to be part of something that will only continue to grow. The gaming arena is impressive, and NCU made the right to open up an excellent program to student gamers.” – Takia Thomas
This is the first year North Central University has had an Esports team. Students are given the opportunity to play video games competitively with teams across the country.
NCU’s varsity Esports team is the first and only team of its kind in the Twin Cities, offering student-athletes the chance to the game while also earning a degree. Student-athletes will be coached, and many are provided with scholarships
Some of those sports consist of Fortnite, League of Legends, Rocket League, and Valorant. Esports athletes receive coaching and have access to the newly renovated varsity Esports lab. Several students on campus love and enjoy playing Esports games during their free time but now that NCU has opened this door for them to be able to be a part of the Esport varsity team, they are ecstatic. One really good resource they have is their Instagram. On there you are able to see images of all the teams and they post when they have matches and what time they are at.
When asked why she wanted to be on the team, Thomas response was, “Esports tournaments are open to both men and women. At NCU, we have a small population of women participating in different leagues. However, generally speaking, the Esports scene is heavily skewed toward men. Because of this, I wanted to be a part of the representation of women in gaming. At first, my anxiety was pretty high, but I quickly realized that I am where I am for a reason, and God gave me the capability to do so. Female gamers often do not see a career or want to participate in Esports as a viable choice. In addition, being a part of the first role models for future and current NCU women interested in Esports shows that there are no typical male and female games or differences in the style of play between women and men. Instead, it’s based on developing skills and learning to become a better player.”
When asking Davenport why he chose to be on the team he said, “There are a few reasons I decided to join Esports. Firstly, because I do enjoy playing games such as Fortnite. Secondly, it gave me a new community to be involved in. The other reason I decided to join Esports was because they gave scholarships to students that already go here, I would be grateful for that since I am a student who has financial struggles paying to go here.”
Overall, the Esports NCU team has maintained a consistent attitude toward every tournament they compete in. On the NCU website, they have a story archive with updated information on every tournament and game they have.