BY SARAH O’ROURKE | STAFF WRITER
PLNU e-Sports, a campus-wide gaming club, plans to take what was a small band of friends playing video games and join them in what is now a national community—just as its parent organization The eSports Association, or TeSPA, did in 2010, according to the Daily Dot.
“We’re at level one,” said president and senior Josh Morse, “And we can only increase from here, so I’m ex- cited to see what comes next.”
E-Sports is PLNU’s chapter of the nationwide intercollegiate gaming community—named TeSPA by its first 20 members—which was started at the University of Austin in 2010. Since then, [TeSPA] ballooned in size and made international headlines thanks to the success of its tournaments.
The organization has teams nationwide and offers students scholar- ships, prizes and access to events at participating campuses according to their website.
A beta test for a new game last year became a major event. TeSPA had co-paid for members of several teams within the organization to a watch tournament in LA, with live
coverage by ESPN. A few thousand people watched gamers show their skills; eventually, the winners of “He- roes of the Dorm” won scholarships opportunities and experience. Had PLNU eSports been a club back then, Morse said, we could have competed as a school.
TeSPA is sponsored by gaming companies like Blizzard Entertainment, which produces World of War- craft, Morse said.
Now entering its second year, PLNU eSports has over 80 active members in a community of around 200 students total, said Nick Reed, a PLNU junior who leads the Xbox section of the club.
Competitive play becomes versatile and accessible: members of eSports participate whether they log in to a live game on their laptop at home, or if they join a group in the ARC that has hooked up a gaming system to one of the TVs.
“I also love how casual and friendly the environment is,” said player and senior Christian Berk via email. He does not consider himself a “pro,” but Berk said he has “always felt very welcome to play just for fun.”
The club allows players to form and join groups, from League of Leg- ends -a popular game involving multiple modes of play including role-playing and questing- to classic strategy games like Pokémon.
eSports is also entering a partner- ship with Twitch.tv, one of the big- gest live streaming websites, who will sponsor events in coming months, Morse said.
Paid members also have access to invitations to TeSPA events, and en- joy what Reed refers to as “perks and a shirt,” which includes free entry to paid local events and cash prizes.
“We have great opportunities and we’re seeing this club grow,” Morse said, “And I want to give them re- sources to do so.”
Morse said the club reaches out to anyone who wants to meet new people with shared interests in competitive video games. This also caught the attention of individuals that do not at- tend PLNU.
“We’re definitely an underdog club,” Reed said. “Even with a small budge, we used a fourth of it on the TV box (called a capture card) that allows us to access live stream game [and] we’re seeing a great response.”
Despite their small budget, eSports has recently received greater financial support.
“TeSPA pours a lot of [financial] backing into its clubs,” Morse said.
“So we have a lot of opportunity. My room is packed with stuff. They sup- ply us and give us really cool exclusive access that people who aren’t in TeSPA clubs wouldn’t have access to.”
Other college campuses in San Diego participate in TeSPA sponsored events.
“TeSPA gave UCSD $14k for putting on a viewing party for world tournaments of League of Legends in Berlin the 31st of November,” Morse said, “We got to sell tickets for that.”
Morse set up a booth for the club on Preview Day, complete with a TV and a Wii for students wishing to test their competitive gaming prowess.
PLNU e-Sports now has its own YouTube and Twitch channel, where participants can watch and stream games live to the Internet. Club-wide events occur monthly, and interested students are encouraged to email club leaders, or visit their Facebook page.
E-Sports also recently started power rankings “in order to motivate the Smash community,” said Percival Verayo via Facebook.
Verayo, a competitive gamer, is currently ranked #5 for Super Smash Brothers in all of San Diego County.
“Basically, I wanted Rankings to help motivate the Smash community…to grow and improve,” Verayo said. “This community here is great… while we are all very competitive and want to destroy each other, we are also all very good friends. It’s much like how the Bible says that iron sharpens iron… except in video games.”
“[Bimonthly] we will list the top 10 PLNU smashers!” he said, “deter- mined via our monthly tournaments and our oh-so-exclusive board.”
“Things are moving,” Reed said, “They’re definitely moving.”
The PLNU e-Sports club will be hosting a Super Smash Bros. tourna- ment on December 11, at the ARC.
PHOTO COURTESY OF TESPA.ORG/PLNU