It was on May 23rd, 2019, when Greenville University decided to invest in esports, hiring current Head Coach B.J. Fink. That move showed what GU’s intentions were towards the creation of a competitive esports program, a program that was given resources for it to grow both logistically and in members. Originally, esports was just on campus as a club, an organization that would meet to play video games and compete against each other. Today, the idea is to create organized teams of players that will practice weekly and compete against other universities. Greenville University’s acquisition and improvement of a building in town, what is now named the SMART Building, has provided the esports program with a new studio where the teams will meet.
The studio where the team was previously running all operations, from practices to official games, was a small space that made it impossible to set up an efficient schedule for players to gather and practice together. A bigger facility with a significant increase in the number of playing stations (computers) tackled this issue straight to its root. Coach’s idea is to “have all students that play the same game at the same time.” This will allow him (depending on the number of athletes) to create a varsity and a junior varsity team, depending on the player’s skills, and work on different tactics and strategies.
Greenville’s esports team’s student-athletes are currently playing a wide variety of games. There are opportunities for students to play: League of Legends, Apex, Fortnite, Super Smash Bros, Overwatch, Rocket League, and Rainbow 6. Also, as a program that is starting, every student that wants to be part of the program can do so. Contact Coach Fink and show your skills. Every game is different and has its own features. Some are mostly based on team communication and performance, but there are others where you can play individually.
College esports competitions are also spread into seasons. Similar to traditional sports, there is a fall season which goes on between October and January, and a spring season from February to May. Specific games are played in different times of the year, according to the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE). During the fall, Overwatch, Rocket League, Smite, and Paladins, Champions of the Realm. In the spring, Counter Striker, Fortnite, and League of Legends are back on the stage.
The arrival of newcomers and freshman to campus will also positively affect the number of games offered by the program. According to B.J. Fink, “If a significant number of students show interest for a certain game, such as FIFA or 2K20, we would be delighted to create a varsity team for such game.” Next academic year, starting Fall 2020, will be the first year in Greenville University’s history where recruits are coming to campus exclusively as members of the esports team. Scholarship money will be offered to esports players because the team isn’t affiliated with the NCAA Division III level, like the other GU sports.