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Saturday, May 25, 2024
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Meet the head of UB esports

James Basta leads the university’s gaming community behind the scenes

<p>Level Up gaming lounge outside of Lockwood Library.</p>

Level Up gaming lounge outside of Lockwood Library.

As UB’s sole esports coordinator, James Basta is in charge of developing the university’s video game community behind the scenes. 

“[We’re] growing, improving and always trying to learn what we can do better,” Basta said of UB esports management. “Whether it’s through varsity, club, intramural or even just going to the Red Jacket gaming lounge, we just want to make sure that these are places for people to relax, meet up with their friends and take their mind off school for a little bit.” 

While esports have existed at UB since 2019, the university quickly began funding it two years later, in 2021. Basta says that UB’s leadership in developing an esports program may be a good sign that the school is listening to what students want.

UB’s esports program is home to four varsity teams, with dozens of junior varsity, intramural and club teams as part of either SUNY, National Esports Collegiate Conference, or other smaller independent leagues. During the season, teams generally compete once a week for two months. 

One of the more notable achievements of UB esports came in 2020, when UB League of Legends won the ESC-East undefeated, going 5-0 and finishing top eight in College League of Legends, winning $10,000.

Basta is in charge of overseeing and hiring managerial positions for UB’s four varsity teams in League of Legends, Rocket League, Overwatch and Valorant, along with staffing the Red Jacket and Level Up gaming lounges. He also collaborates with student-run gaming clubs at UB by providing resources or different leagues to play in for the teams.

While winning is important, Basta says that other organizations and teams often become distracted with results and numbers. 

“Although winning is the overall goal, we are more focused on getting everything set up in the long run in order to succeed,” Basta said. 

Basta’s focus is on developing a fundamental infrastructure for esports UB and establishing a welcoming community. That includes the creation of a video broadcasting space in Red Jacket for students to foster their creative talents. 

Basta is also always ready for students or staff to come to him with their worries. His mentality is centered around the support for the student-base, placing health and academics at the forefront.

“We’re really focused on the wellness aspect,” Basta said.

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Ferdinand Babiano is a contributing writer. 



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