Esports provides a unique opportunity for students at Greenville, and like most teams on campus, the lasting effect of COVID-19 has led the university to make several modifications to ensure a safe and successful semester. Head Coach BJ Fink has put a few guidelines in place to ensure a safe season. These guidelines include no more than 6 computers being used at once, ensuring a six-foot distance between players as recommended by the CDC. Beyond this, all members need to wear masks and test twice per week as per school guidelines. Despite these few changes, esports has still been able to successfully carry out a season. When asked about the season, Fink stated, “Tournaments still run relatively the same for esports. Play console like Super Smash or FIFA, for example, special software has been developed to make the online tournament more streamlined and stable in order to have complete online tournaments.”
When asked about any changes noted throughout the first few weeks at school, Fink stated, “COVID has definitely affected game releases. Overwatch 2 would be a notable one that is delayed. As those designers and programmers had to work from home, the capacity to develop has slowed overall. I think as they perfect the transition to homework, it will pick back up. Apex or other battle royals have pushed back season starts etc”. Although COVID seemingly has found a way to change the way we operate, Fink is prepared to use the delay in a way that will benefit the squads throughout their tournaments.
Currently, the team is working on balancing a rotating schedule with current tournaments. One way they are doing this is by scheduling practice time based on the chronological order of squad tournaments. Through this system, each squad can successfully compete. Another obstacle that the team is having to overcome is not having the same physical support that they had before the pandemic. Although the team is fortunate enough to continue to compete, it is noted that the social distancing rule is causing there to be a lack of community within the game. Before the pandemic hit, the Panthers would travel to venues where they would compete against other teams. This in-person competition is important for esport teams as it ensures that all players are on the same server, allowing them all to perform at the same speed. This is an area that the team is working on overcoming as these competitions go fully online for the foreseeable future.
Despite the obstacles the team has had to face, Fink is excited for the year.
Media by Ryan Taylor.