Overwatch club expands, becomes esports team

UB gamers compete against each other, other schools


Most students go to UB Stadium to watch football, but for those who prefer esports, the opportunity to see a SUNY-wide esports tournament at the stadium may soon be a reality. 

UB’s new esports team allows students to compete against other universities in various video games, with the goal of someday hosting a “massive” tournament at the UB Stadium. 

The Department of Media Studies recognized the team –– which previously met as Overwatch Club –– on Sept. 23 and roughly 50 students have joined since the transition. The club has expanded to playing several video games since the switch, including League of Legends, Heroes of the Storm and games through Tespa, a North American collegiate esports organization. Unlike many UB clubs, students don’t have to attend club meetings to become members, as they can compete remotely from any location.

Jake Nowak, a senior theatre design major and president of esports, said anyone can play, regardless of skill level or physical barriers.

“Traditional sports are great for people to go support and watch, but not everyone is able to play,” Nowak said. “Esports are open to everyone. It doesn’t matter if you have a hip or a knee problem, you can compete here.” 

Community teams often come together for tournaments, which any student can enter regardless of skill level. 

But the club isn’t just for gamers. 

William Nicholson, a sophomore computer science major and co-founder and treasurer of esports, said students can volunteer to commentate on the games and can tune in to Twitch.tv, a streaming platform, to watch and support the students competing.

He said he hopes to publicize competitions and hold them in easily accessible locations so everyone can support the team. 

Nicholson said the team is a “tight-knit gaming community” where students come to compete, but learn valuable life skills in return.

“Community is the foundation that [esports] is built upon, it is not all competitive,” Nicholson said. “I see people grow as leaders, making shots, setting up routines, [learn] better time management skills. And you have to critique yourself in order to get better and get up there and realize what you did wrong. The community aspect is really what is special about it.”

Esports currently has players for three games, and Nicholson “hopes to cover six or seven” by the end of next semester. 

Matthew Welch, a sophomore communication major and esports’ social media coordinator, said gaming competitions have been “rapidly growing” over the last decade and believes the club serves student interests. 

“For as large of a school as we have, we believe that we can get a wide range of skilled gamers from many genres of games and be successful at a high level of gameplay,” Welch said.

Esports typically holds competitions on Sunday evenings, and hopes to create a calendar of upcoming games so students can plan, form teams and compete. Nowak’s goal for esports before the end of this year is to have full rosters under every major game in esports.

“This will start getting UB recognition among other schools, as UB is one of the last SUNY schools to finally branch into esports,” Nowak said. “One day I would love to see the SUNY-wide esports tournament. I believe this can be accomplished if we work as hard as we have for the past year on the validity of this club.” 

News desk can be reached at news@ubspectrum.com. 

CORRECTION: The group is not recognized by the Student Association, as previously stated, but rather DMS.