Marquette Wire

First meeting of esports club defies gamer stereotypes

Photo by Andrew Himmelburg

Photo by Andrew Himmelburg

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It’s a typical early-year club sports meeting, but without the ex-high school quarterbacks and former star basketball players. In fact, it is probably safe to say that most of the attendees at this meeting have never even wanted to throw game-winning touchdowns or hit a home run in the bottom of the ninth inning.

Yet, they’re athletes. Or at least highly-skilled game players.

Regardless, for the nearly 50 students that attended Wednesday night’s inaugural Marquette Gaming and Esports Organization meeting, the labels aren’t important. New friends and the pursuit of a passion are first and foremost.

“Out on the west coast, esports are huge. They have hundreds of kids show up to their teams, and there’s even starting to be scholarship money thrown around,” MGEO President Eddie Duray said. “We’re still only a year and a half old here, but I’m hoping to start building the culture here.”

Duray, a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences, defies the classic stereotype of gamers. Far from the Mountain Dew-guzzling, acne-ridden, shut-in caricature that people have built for gamers, Duray is a gregarious former lacrosse player with an athlete’s build. Duray loves “League of Legends,” one of the most popular game in the competitive esports space, and he hopes others will give it a chance before writing it off as geeky.

“I’ve seen people not even into it go to an event, come back and say, ‘Wow, this is cool, I’d go to it again,'” Duray said. “They’re usually pretty hyped.”

Spend five minutes in a gathering like this one and it becomes abundantly clear that not only are people into esports, but also that esports is about more than just uber-competitive video gaming. It’s an entire sub-culture all its own, complete with inside jokes, special holidays and a lingo-laden lexicon. Abbreviations like MMO, which stands for massively multiplayer online, and MOBA, a particular kind of strategy game, fly back and forth across the room with such frequency and nonchalance that it starts to sound like another language.

Although MGEO is technically a competitive organization that houses varsity and junior varsity-level teams across several esports, it’s as much a social group as anything else. Duray and his wingmen, Co-Vice Presidents Riley O’Brien, a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences, and Patrick Glogovsky, a sophomore in the College of Communication, have booked semi-weekly local area network, or LAN, parties, where people get together to play games. They have also compiled a massive master list of gamertag and usernames to further facilitate day-to-day online play.

“I’m hoping to find some other people to play these games with, and to have a more social gaming experience,” said Peter Allen, a freshman in the College of Engineering and dual esport athlete competing in “League of Legends” and “Overwatch.” “That was something I looked for when the semester first started-just new friends to play with and hang out with.”

That isn’t to say the competitive side isn’t important. For the first time since its inception a year and a half ago, MGEO is seeking to join ULoL, a national organization dedicated to linking college “League of Legends” teams across the nation for a full-on sports season with weekly matches. Along with “League of Legends,” MGEO is building rosters in first-person shooting games like “Counterstrike: Go” and “Overwatch,” as well as perennial Nintendo favorite “Super Smash Bros.”

For the gamers joining these teams, the reason for competition is just as serious as any other sport.

“I typically don’t just play for fun, or mess around playing with friends. I usually play it by myself, trying to focus on it and improve,” said Joe Vitrano, a freshman in the College of Business Administration with four years of “League of Legends” experience. “It’s not like my whole life. I think I just like the game because, like anybody, I’m just trying to be good at something I really enjoy.”

The roles each player fills on a team are as equally varied as any other sport.

“I’m a ‘Counterstrike’ coach. I’ve coached teams in the past, and I plan on coaching teams now for MGEO,” Avery Guething, a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences said. “It’s a lot of organizing events, practice. But then also analyzing strategies, and being able to help the team work together.”

All of those things sound pretty similar to the more familiar sports Marquette fans watch every single year.

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