Esports club to bring competitive video gaming to campus


A new sports club is being formed on campus, but instead of jersey numbers and helmets, it uses gamertags and headsets.

The esports club, created to bring students into the world of competitive gaming, is still in the process of finding board members and gaining ASA approval. But according to freshman Taha Afzal, founder of the club, that might not take long.

Afzal said that he decided to start the club because, even though he doesn’t play video games on a regular basis, he still has a drive to create a campus organization that would stand out from the others.

He also said esports have become very popular in recent years.

“I think the esports thing is a new thing that is coming into the current world,” Afzal said.

Afzal said that society has opened up to esports in recent years and they have gained footing in several colleges and universities. In fact, some colleges offer courses in gaming and have competitive teams that award scholarships to players.

The club has already found a faculty advisor as well as candidates for the president, vice president and secretary positions. Right now, Afzal is looking for a treasurer and social media coordinator.

One of the candidates for president is freshman Ben Muhlenbeck.

Muhlenbeck is already is a part of an esports league called Space Esports, which has 27,000 followers on Twitch, a streaming service for games. He said that he sees esports as a way to be a part of a larger community.

“It’s a way to get involved in the community,”  Muhlenbeck said. “I know at a lot of places college esports is a big deal and a lot of colleges have arenas for esports and it’s interesting to me that Augustana doesn’t really have one.”

Muhlenbeck said there is currently a popular college level esports for Rocket League, an online version of soccer that is played with cars instead of people. He said that South Dakota and Minnesota are some of the only states that do not have teams participating in the tournament.

In fact, esports have gotten so big that arenas with giant display boards have started popping up in U.S. cities like Los Angeles and Seattle.

Muhlenbeck said that he would love to see Sioux Falls get an esports arena.

“My dream here would be to have an esports arena one day,” Muhlenbeck said. “That’d be really cool.”

Nathan Grau, an associate professor of physics, agreed to serve as the club’s advisor because he believes that it would allow more students to get involved on campus.

“I generally try to support students who want to do positive activities that bring students together,” Grau said. “An esports club would allow students interested in electronic gaming to have a group.”

After filling the leadership roles, the club will have to draft a constitution, get it approved and make a Viking Central page.

Afzal said that the club plans to host a tournament open to students every month. The consoles and games played will vary based on student feedback.

“We’re open to anything, and we’re getting feedback,” Afzal said. “We hand out surveys to the students who sign up for the club, and then they could choose what game on what console they want to play this weekend, and then what game on what console they want to play the next weekend.”

Afzal is also interested in forming a team that would compete at national or international competitions with the possibility of winning prizes. In April, $15,000 in scholarships were awarded to the winners of the Hearthstone Collegiate Championships, just one of the many tournaments that offers such a prize.

But some Augustana students are skeptical as to whether gaming should be seen as a sport.

Sophomore Marisa Smith said that she believes the name of the club should be changed because she doesn’t view video games as an athletic event.

“I think it’s cool, because I know a lot of people play video games,” Smith said. “I just don’t think it’s a sport. People say that cheerleading isn’t a sport, but that’s more active than video games.”

Instead, Smith views it as a club.

“I think the club is great,” she said. “I think there’s a lot of game enthusiasts out there that would like to join. I think that’s really awesome. I just don’t like the name of it.”


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