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Earlier in the month, the Student Union Board of Governors hosted a virtual tournament for a game called Rocket League. Several teams congregated virtually from the University of Connecticut to duke it out in this tournament with a grand prize pool of Apple AirPods and a $50 gift card. 

The featured game, Rocket League, is described as “soccer, but with rocket-powered cars,” by Business Insider.

Anton Petrenko, the winner of the competition and the division head of Rocket League in UConn’s Gaming Club, said, “It was nice to get to see how many people were interested in Rocket League at this school.”

An increase in COVID-19 restrictions coupled with a growing awareness and interest in esports led SUBOG to try and experiment with virtual tournaments in the fall semester. Awareness of esports has grown from 1.1 billion people to 1.9 billion people from 2016 to 2020, and worldwide revenue is projected to pass $1.5 billion by 2023, according to Forbes

Jhon Perez Moreno, the SUBOG sports chair, described these efforts.

“We were hit with everything virtually…and I was brainstorming different ideas and I’m like, why not add an esports where people can…virtually [do] sports,” he said. 

An added benefit of esports was its accessibility. The tournaments could be streamed or viewed on many platforms, like Twitch or YouTube. There wasn’t any movement or transportation necessary. All a player needed was their computer and good Wi-Fi. 

There are a plethora of games to choose from when it comes to esports. First-person shooter games like Call of Duty and CS:GO are contrasted with strategic games like League of Legends. Moreno hosted the first SUBOG esports competition during the fall semester with the virtual football game Madden. 

Reception of the esports initiative has been positive at UConn. Moreno said that he wishes to add more games like FIFA and Overwatch to the tournament list. 

“I would like to see more esports involvement in terms of seeing the school interested,” Petrenko said. 

While there is no official esports program set up at UConn yet, the university has demonstrated interest. Interested students can learn more about getting involved in the esports community at UConn here.

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Jonathan Kopeliovich

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