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Ottawa University Adds Esports

By Jon Painter
On March 8, 2019

Photo by Jon Painter

Ottawa University Athletic Department kick-started its Esports program with the hiring of Connor Alne as head coach. Competitive games for Ottawa’s inaugural team are set to begin in the fall semester of 2019.  

League of Legends, Hearthstone, Overwatch and Rocket-League are the first games the Esports team will be playing. Super Smash Bros. and other games may be added later.

Daniel Coppock, student and captain of Ottawa’s League of Legends team, has been at the forefront of the campaign to bring Esports to the university.

Coppock says Ottawa’s interest in starting an Esports team began after he and his friends competed in an official collegiate League of Legends tournament under the Ottawa name.

“This has been something I’ve been working toward for three years now, and now that it’s finally become a reality. As someone who hasn’t played an actual sport here, now I finally got a team to actually call my own,” Coppock says.

With League of Legends being the largest game, Ottawa’s Esports League of Legends team will include a varsity team as well as a JV 1 and JV 2 teams while Overwatch will just have a varsity and JV team.

The competition for Esports will be either in 6 vs 6, 5 vs 5 or 3 vs 3 format and will be governed by NACE (The National Association of Collegiate Esports) who organizes the Esports tournaments.

Not only does Ottawa offer scholarships to come play Esports, but scholarships can be won during game play.

“You can get scholarships to come play here or other schools. But also depending on how you place at these larger events you can win additional scholarship money toward your program” Alne says.

Ottawa will be converting the Petersen Auditorium into a gaming center over the next several months. There the Esports team will be able to practice; host and stream live events. Alne says one of the main attractions of Ottawa’s Esports program is that it will be one of the only places in the region with the ability to host live events.

Another aspect of the Esports program is the live stream and broadcasting capabilities available. Students who may not be playing competitively or are interested in shoutcasting have the opportunity to get their feet wet in the streaming and programming fields of live Esports events on Twitch.tv at Ottawa University.

“For our program for scholarships, they have to be on campus; they are treated just like athletes you’re going workout three times a week with the team, you are going to be practicing with the team; twenty week practice, twenty hours a week,” Alne says.

Alne adds that NACE and the NAIA are very similar in their GPA and academic eligibility requirements. He also says Esports players at Ottawa University will likely be drug tested similarly to traditional athletes of Ottawa University.

Alne says the ideal number of players for an Esports program is around 50 players. 

“There is a lot of upside to Esports because on one-hand you view it as a sport like football, but also there is games inside the sport, so each game is a different sport but it’s all under the Esports umbrella,” he says.

For those potentially interested in joining or following along as a fan with Ottawa Esports there is a community chat with information available on the Discord app.  

 

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