Pacific esports team advances to national championships
University of the Pacific’s esports team has advanced to the national championships in the College League of Legends, a student-led network of players from college campuses across the United States and Canada.
Pacific won the West Coast Conference championship, edging University of San Francisco.
"We are quite excited to reach the national championships this year," said Aaron LeDawson '21, coach of Pacific's esports team. "At the same time, though, we still have a great deal of work to do to get the entire program where we want to go."
Esports — or electronic sports — is competitive video gaming played primarily in organized, multiplayer video game competitions between individual professionals or teams.
Growing in popularity over the last decade, the esports industry is estimated to be worth nearly $1.8 billion by 2022. The competition draws millions of online viewers through streaming platforms such as Twitch, where fans watch teams battle onscreen in games such as League of Legends, Rocket League or Overwatch.
Pacific's esports team has five players – Tommy Nguyen '21, Jihwan Joo '21, Dylan Fardette-Konkler '21, Justin Pak '22 and Kenneth Nguyen '21.
During the season the team met weekly to practice, review past games or scrimmage other schools. Due to the pandemic the team could not meet in person so it would communicate on Discord, a free voice, video and text chat app used by gamers as a means of communication during multiplayer competitions.
"This year was challenging for us to balance remote learning and finding time to practice as a team," said Kenneth Nguyen. "I think we all would have liked to have practiced more and had additional time together, but it's all worked out."
In the first round of the national championships, Pacific is slated to face No. 7 ranked Illinois College on May 1 at 2 p.m. PST. The match will be live streamed on Twitch, an online video service that focuses on video games, including esports broadcasts.
"My personal goal for the national championships is to make the top eight," said LeDawson. "If we can make it that far, our competitions next season will be live streamed on Riot Games' Twitch account. They average 8 million viewers per match-- to be featured would be an amazing opportunity for us."
In addition to competing, the esports program fosters a sense of community.
“Our team is about competing and developing solid relationships with each other,” said Pak. “It’s really just a culmination of different aspects of regular life, but also can be correlated towards gaming and the esports world.”
In addition to Pacific's League of Legends team, the university has a Valorant and Smash Bros club team, two of the most popular games in the esports world. Pacific Recreation also holds esports leagues and tournaments throughout the year.
To support the esports program, Pacific's Campus Life Department is updating the game room in the DeRosa University Center with additional consoles for the team or other gamers to have extra space to compete.
There are also plans to create an esports arena for competitions complete with a viewing gallery for spectators.
“We are excited to provide Pacificans with a place to come together as a community and compete in games they love,” said Marc Falkenstein, executive director of Campus Life. “We feel esports can provide this space.”
Students interested in joining Pacific's esports League of Legends club team can email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the team Discord: Elevate#8390.