Oswego State Esports Team Takes Advantage Of Pandemic With Virtual Club

Article courtesy of The Oswegonian

The Oswego State Esports Association has far and away had the most wins of any team located on the Oswego State campus this year. The club seems ideal to handle a situation like the pandemic, with all game action occurring in a virtual world and all communication between teammates going through the Discord application.

The two most impressive showings by the club so far this year are the undefeated play of both the Rocket League and Rainbow Six Siege teams. Despite vastly different gameplays from each other and two different sets of teams, the teams have found a lack of competition playing in the NECC, the league Oswego State is part of.

The Rocket League team, which is 9-0, is led by a student who goes by his gamertag “Tommy the Tsunami,” his given name being Thomas Bullock. Bullock beamed with joy, talking about the skill level of the team and their clever nicknames. 

“My teammates are “Headless Chicken”, or Nate, and “Johnamite” or John,” Bullock said. “I feel like we should be at a different skill level or division. We are currently at 9-0 and have yet to have much competition.”

Matthew Michaelis, who is on the Rainbow Six Siege team said  the team has come together and is now the dominant team in the NECC. 

“We are 8-0 in the NECC league,” Michaelis said. “This is our second year of playing Siege. We started fall of last year. We didn’t do a league in the first semester and second semester we did CEA, which is just another collegiate league. This semester we are in the NECC, in the challenger league, which is an open competition for all colleges to join.”

The open competition has led to a drop in the quality of play from last year in the CEA, and the team has not missed a beat against lower competition, winning every single map played so far this season. The game consists of a best-of-three series, with the potential for three different maps to be played. The hope is to continue to gain attention around the country for their stellar play and receive an invite to a league next year. 

The club has been growing an audience and expects this Friday, April 9, to be no different facing the other undefeated Rainbow Six Siege team on the Oswego State eSports Association Twitch stream. It will be a different kind of Friday night lights than what many Oswego State fans are accustomed to, but is a matchup that will decide seeding for the upcoming NECC playoffs. Michaelis looks forward to a hard fought game Friday. 

“As much as it is nice to have that big 7-0 or 8-0 [record], the fun is in the challenge more than it is in winning,” Michaelis said. 

For the Rocket League team, the season might already be decided as Oswego State has already faced the toughest teams on its schedule. Bullock does not see much competition on the horizon after already beating the previous two unbeaten teams in the league earlier this year. 

“Personally, I think we have faced the hardest teams so far which were Bryant University and Hood College,” Bullock said. “They are 7-1 and 6-1 right now. So, I don’t really see any competition really.” 

The two teams have the opportunity to gain the club national recognition in the upcoming playoffs, being favorites to win their respective tournaments. The tournament appearance is an exciting opportunity that would , with a win also reward each gamer with a brand new headset. 

The club president, Don Ellers wants to create an environment which is welcoming and gives every gamer a chance to find games they like. The club offers teams in multiple games right now outside of Rocket League and Rainbow Six Siege, including Pokémon and Super Smash Brothers. Ellers always is looking for new members to join. 

“We are always looking for new people to join our club,” Ellers said. “Given the fact that we are in the middle of COVID-19, we are pretty much one of the more accessible clubs on campus. A lot of our teams and events are situated in a place where they can be reached entirely digitally.” 

The NECC began sponsoring esports in the fall of 2020. The NECC is currently sponsoring both regular season competition and championships across a wide variety of titles. The conference aims to serve the gaming community with respect and is a safe and inclusive environment. With more than 90 colleges and universities currently competing in the conference, the NECC is proud to be a positive home for the collegiate gaming community.