By Zachary Harnischfeger and Jack McElligott
When people think of major sports, they most likely think of football, hockey, soccer, and baseball. What most people probably don’t think about is Esports. Esports, short for Electronic Sports, is a form of competition using video games between professional players, individually or as teams is growing in popularity.
One place where Esports is popular is SUNY Brockport. The Esports lounge is in the Seymour College. The director of the Esports club is Truman Benz. Benz says Esports brings people together.
“The Esports lounge gives an opportunity for people who may not have the best social skills to have an opportunity to meet people just like them and find a place on campus where otherwise they wouldn’t have a place,” Benz said
The Esports club has open game nights every Friday. Many people from the community and campus come out to the game nights. Benz says he’s happy to see so many people having a good time playing the video games.
“I recognize the benefit it has to the dozens of people that come in here every week can have a positive impact because maybe it could be the only time that they’re able to come out of the room,” Benz said. “So, let’s say it’s there one time a week that they’re coming out of their dorm rooms for Friday nights, and they get to have fun with people, and that’s the day that puts a smile on their face that alone is priceless, so I think it has a priceless impact on the community,” Benz said.
The Esports team is trying to do more. They play a variety of different games like Call of Duty and Minecraft and are trying to get more competitive teams for each of the different games they play.
“The increase in competitive teams we’ve had is gone from one to four so last year we only had one competitive team that was for Call of Duty this year we have four different teams plus four different titles, so we have Call of Duty, Smash Bros, Valerant, and Rocket League,” Benz said.
Public Relations director of the Esports club Alex Weiss has also seen a lot of growth within the club.
“Comparing this year to last year we have seen so much growth as far as getting us into the new room and decorating with the decals and stuff, so I think when we are up here on the upper floor people can just walk by and come inside and be like oh this is the esports room. Some people have never seen it before,” Weiss says.
The Esports club differs from the other sports teams on campus. The open game nights on Friday nights are open to anyone on campus. Every Friday there is a different event for people to try.
“Unlike our competitive teams where they have scheduled practices and match times throughout this semester are open game nights are every Friday from 6:00 to 10:30 PM and each open game night is for everyone,” Benz said.
Anyone on campus can come through and hang out and play whatever game they want, and each Friday open game night also corresponds with an event as well.
“There’s something to attract everyone and even if you’re not someone who plays a lot of video games I’m a firm believer that there’s a video game for everyone and that there’s something for everybody here,” Benz said.
Benz is all about getting the people involved.
“Everything starts with community, I mean you look at the bills right that’s a community of itself that they wouldn’t be a successful football team without the fans and you look at the Yankees and Mets in New York even if you just took New York City alone the impact on the culture they’ve had in that city is tremendous and they wouldn’t be where they are today if it wasn’t for the impact that they’ve had so it all starts with the community at large no matter what you’re doing.” Benz said.
Benz is also the director of Esports at Monroe Community College. There is a difference between the two and how things are run.
“The differences with MCC versus here is here we’re a club sport over at MCC we’re under athletics so we have a lot stricter rules on eligibility for example because we’re club there’s no GPU requirement, whereas at MCC there’s a GPA requirement you got to be a full-time student, things like that that can impact some people in joining. It also leaves more options to play competitively in terms of what titles you want to play,” Benz said.
There are also Esports options in the Rochester area as well.
“In the Rochester area, RIT hosts smash tournaments often they will also host conventions and you got the Player Zone which is an Esports bar which is in East Rochester,” Benz said.
Benz notices that there is a large community that is interested in the Esports community in the Rochester area and in the world.
“I think there’s a bigger stereotype with people in Esports that they really like I said they’re not great with social skills a lot of the time and I think COVID also had something to do with that,” Benz said. “I do think there is some partial truth to that and so sometimes it takes a little extra push from certain people to get those kinds of people out there but when you get out there you then realize like wow, one of the biggest communities in the world is Esports, I mean just look at the viewing numbers on YouTube, and Twitch, the eyes that are on it are more than most sports in all honesty. There’s a massive community that people don’t even realize that suggests it’s very under the radar.” Benz said.
There are over 150 professional Esports teams from all over the world. In 2022, there are currently nine different tournaments going on in different locations around the world. The most recent is the League of Legends world championship which happens the whole month of October, which takes place in Mexico City, New York City, Atlanta, and San Francisco. Following this is The international, which takes place in Singapore, The Halo world championship which takes place in Seattle, Washington, and The Rio major, which takes place in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.
Esports is a fun way to interact with all kinds of people that share a love for video games. Those who are introverts often turn to video games as way to get out of their shell.