Norwich Enters the World of E-Sports

League of Legends Logo. Logo image used under Fair Use.

“This is not something that colleges have really been getting into all that much,” said Jeremy Hansen, associate professor of computer science regarding e-sports on college campuses, “and there’ve been some that’s been offering scholarships for different games.”

Hansen began the process of entering the university into e-sports after realizing its potential to flourish on campus, especially among Norwich’s computer science and computer security majors.

E-sports is professional competitive gaming, with the industry having been predicted to make over $900 million in revenue in the year 2018, according to Newzoo.

After reading several articles regarding e-sports, Professor Hansen began to contemplate who could help him with his project, which led him to meet with Greg Matthews of enrollment management at Norwich University.

Prof. Hansen immediately learned that Matthews and his children were also gamers which allowed Matthews to “immediately see the value of bringing gamers on board.”

While Prof. Hansen was exchanging emails with Matthews, he sent emails among the computer science majors to gauge the interest of e-sports in Norwich and found tremendous interest in the program. Despite this interest, there were students who were concerned that the new e-sports program would overshadow the League of Legends Club which had been established one year prior.

Prof. Hansen eased their worries by making League of Legends one of the three games Norwich students can play competitively in, alongside Player’s Unknown Battleground and Rainbow Six: Siege.

PlayerUnknown’s Battleground. Logo image used under Fair Use.

“The Siege team started competing in a collegiate league; the PUBG team started competing in a collegiate league,” said Hansen “Everybody’s started to get motivated and playing their games.”

Students playing in e-sports teams are held to the same expectations held for students on Norwich’s football or hockey team since they still represent Norwich in competitive gaming.

“We have some expectations and team rules about number of hours of practice,” said Hansen, “when people are going to compete, who’s responsible, how are subs handled, this sort of thing.”

Norwich’s admissions office wanted to encourage new students into joining the varsity-level teams and reward current members by offering an e-sports scholarship that rewards students with $1500 dollars a semester, though recipients may lose that scholarship the following semester if they aren’t dedicated enough to their teams.

“There’s expectations that go along with that,” Said Hansen “If you don’t show up to a bunch for practices to the football team, you’re not on the team anymore because there’s expectations and people rely on each other.”

The League of Legends club, which existed unofficially a year prior, saw an increase in membership thanks to Prof. Hansen’s e-sports program.

“Last year we had maybe about ten members that came by regularly. Now we have over 40 members that are signed up on the OrgSync page and half of those show up to weekly meetings” said Alexis Julian, 21, a senior computer security and information assurance major from Homosassa, Fla.

Julian founded the club to give students who enjoyed the game a friendly environment where “they could help each other out, help each other climb the ranks.”

Norwich’s League of Legends club meets every Monday night in the Wise Campus Center media rooms 002 and 003 from 7 to 10 p.m. and has two teams of different skill level: NU Gold and NU Maroon. The club has been extended an invitation to compete in the College League of Legends tournament by Riot, the developer of the League of Legends game.”

“The fact that we were invited to join the competition in the first place is really big for us,” said Julian “We can put the name out there. We can show off that we have a Norwich e-sports team.”

Most members of the NU Gold team only use desktops when they play League so members will often end up playing matches against colleges from the inside of their dorm rooms.

“NU Maroon, we all have laptops so we all meet up and play,” said Trang Do, 20, a computer security and computer science double major from Malden, Mass. Do serves as the club treasurer and captain of the NU Maroon team.

Do first became interested in League of Legends as a way to keep in touch with her friends when she moved to Malden. As captain of the NU Maroon team, Do believes that her team’s ability to communicate and react as a group is their greatest strength that often trumps the NU Gold team in friendly skirmishes.

“They’re better individually, but League is a team game and when you work as a team you win,” said Do.

Rainbow Six: Siege Logo. Logo image used under Fair Use.

Norwich’s Rainbow Six: Siege team, has already distinguished themselves by ranking 22nd out of 500 in their collegiate league.

“We have five for the Alpha team and five for the Bravo team. We’ve been kind of struggling to have a consistent Bravo team. We finally have a consistent roster so we’re trying to get them matches so they don’t feel left out,” said Derek Wiesing, 22, a fifth-year cyber security major from Naples, FL.

The players on the Siege team are preparing to compete in the playoffs after Thanksgiving break. E-sports games from Norwich are streamed from Norwich’s own Twitch account.

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