HENRY POWERS, TRUMPET GUEST WRITER
The thrill of excitement. The agony of defeat. The arena-like atmosphere with screens and graphics lighting up the room.
The world of Esports is coming to Wartburg College in 2022, announced in a press release in September.
Ryan Callahan, the interim director of athletics and head athletic trainer, said initial discussions of adding Esports started in 2020 but were delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Competition is slated to start in the fall of 2022.
As discussions continue, the blueprint for what this might look like is developing.“
The college is currently in the process of evaluating potential locations for this program.
“Before the fall of ’22, we will build out a state-of-the-art space to serve as the training and competition arena for Esports,” Callahan said.
The coach of the Esports program has been named as Josh Fischer, a 2021 graduate from Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa. Fischer has experience as both an esports participant and coach at Northwestern.
The American Rivers Conference does not sponsor Esports, Callahan said, so the conference that Wartburg competes in will be determined before the Fall of 2022.
According to the National Association of Collegiate Esports, in 2020 there were over 175 colleges and universities that had Esports programs.
Lucas Wendland, broadcast engineer and advisor for the student Esports organization at Wartburg, said the world of video games has changed and is becoming more beneficial for this generation.
“It’s not that video games are just becoming more and more popular now, I think it’s becoming more accessible,” he said. “When I started playing video games it was on a Super Nintendo which is really old and now, they’ve essentially come out with, hey, these are all the Super Nintendo games on the Switch.”
Wendland started playing video games in middle school and still does, but time doesn’t allow him to play as much. The student organization that he advises was created to be recreational for more competitive players, he said.
For some people in today’s generation, playing video games is one of their more passionate hobbies.
Colby Gibson, a second-year student-athlete who plays baseball at Wartburg, competitively plays video games, and said students should have opportunities no matter what they enjoy.
“I feel like the kids that excel at video games have something to do,” he said. “Some kids here that only play video games and don’t really have much athleticism but are ‘goons’ I mean let them do it, you know?” (“Goons” is a term for a highly-skilled player),
Gibson has a gaming console setup where he plays MLB the Show and Call of Duty on his PlayStation 4.
Wendland said some of the more popular games out in the Esports world are League of Legends, Rocket League, and Overwatch. He also said he believes the college will lean on team-oriented games when they decide what will be played.
As students all over the world are becoming more and more familiar with the idea of Esports, Callahan is excited for what it will bring.
“I believe this is yet another great opportunity for students to have the Wartburg experience and participate in a competitive athletic program. Our goals for this program will be the same as the others currently in place: provide an exceptional student-athlete experience while competing at the highest level of the sport.”