The words, “Welcome to the eSports club,” were written on the first panel of the chalkboard in one of the classrooms of RyanLearningCenter as 18-20 students walked into the room Wednesday evening, Zelda and Pokémon music playing in the background. More amusing were the words written on the other side of the board, “Welcome to not sports.”
A latecomer walked in a bit later to ask, “Is this the Furbies of Point Loma meeting?”
From here, the meeting continued by announcing the game heads, or those who would lead the gamers into the cyber worlds of popular games – World of Warcraft, Pokémon, League of Legends, Counterstrike, Super Smash Bros, Hearthstone, Magic the Gathering, Call of Duty, Magic, Kingdom Hearts, Final Fantasy and Heroes of the Storm.
The club’s officers are senior Josh Lam, junior Alex Minoofar, senior Ian Stubbs, sophomore Cam Wilkins, sophomore Lucas Ustick, sophomore Percival Luke Verayo, sophomore Luke Scianna and senior Jake Crocicchia.
TeSPA PLNU eSports is one of the first 20 national chapter memberships of The eSports Association, or TeSPA. TeSPA is the largest network of collegiate talent in eSports. There are over 60 national chapters associated with this organization across North America and two or three in Canada. TeSPA PLNU eSports will also partner with local colleges, like UCSD and USD.
TeSPA also provides free swag and funding to the club for events. Last semester, 10 of the best chapters went to Austin, Texas to run and network one of the biggest collegiate tournaments, Lone Star Clash 3, all expenses paid. PLNU was one of them.
TeSPA hosts a president’s council where every chapter meets monthly via Skype and provides these members with benefits, including table banners, stand-up banners, equipment rentals, money for pizza parties, clothing, gaming glasses and alpha access to games.
“TeSPA is our overlord. They are our BFFs right now,” said junior Alex Minoofar, vice president and Riot coordinator.
In addition to TeSPA, the club plans to connect with Riot and Blizzard gaming and Pokémon league (The Loma League) to account for funds, sponsors for events and benefits of membership in their collegiate clubs. The League of Legends team will also occasionally stream their games using the gaming platform, Twitch.
Formed in January, the club works by raid calling and setting up tournaments or meetings to conquer game content together. That could be through Facebook or even through local online tournaments or national tournaments. One individual, who attended one meeting with the club last year semester, went on to win a pre-release Pokémon tournament after having only ever played at the meeting.
“We hope to overcome the stigma associated with online and competitive gaming that it is not an antisocial activity, but rather a strong and valuable community,” the club’s website, tespa.org/plnu states. “We are accepting of all who want to bring their game to the group. Additionally, we acknowledge the gaming and online community is not a Godly place, and represents to us a great opportunity for ministry.”
Senior Josh Lam, the president of the club and TeSPA coordinator, said that this group allows the PLNU gaming population to meet together to discuss and enjoy the games students love together.
“We want to provide an area to get to go, whether a game, going out to dinner, getting ice cream, and building a tight knit community with people of the same interests across campus,” said.
The group talked of everything from giving to charity for the numbers of hour gamed to participating in gaming marathons whilst taking it on as a personal challenge to game 32 hours straight.
“We hope to meet to tackle content together,” said senior Jack Crocicchia, the World of Warcraft game head.
Their first tournament on campus will be the FIFA14 Tournament. The entry fee is $5, but there are prizes. An Xbox 360 is the gaming system of choice, so TeSPA PLNU eSports asks that interested participants bring their own Xbox 360 controller.
The club has yet to set a date for the tournament, but their website, Twitter and Facebook page, TeSPA PLNU eSports, will update with that information. The tournament is planned for within the next month.