The Rise of Esports at Concord

Esports is growing in popularity among colleges in the United States. At Concord, that fact is no different.

In 2019, Concord University became the first public college or university in West Virginia to establish esports as a varsity sport for students. Since its arrival, esports has been a smashing success.

In its first year of competition, Concord’s Maroon Team in Call of Duty soared into the national (and local) spotlight with tournament victories and a second-place playoff finish in the Call of Duty Playoffs.

Competition in these events are no slouch either. Upon questioning how competitive esports are in comparison to traditional sports, Austin Clay—second year esports Head Coach and Director—assured that esports is just as competitive.

“I wouldn’t say it is more competitive than other sports. I would [refer] to it as a ‘new frontier’. We are facing these high tier, Division 1 schools like Penn State that you wouldn’t normally face in traditional sports.”

Austin Clay

Last season, the team continued its success in Call of Duty, but finished second once again in the playoffs. This year, Clay assures that the Call of the Duty team is looking to get over the hump this season.

“[They] want to bring home the trophy,” he repeated multiple times.

Another game Clay mentioned was Valorant, a first-person shooter game. He and the players share a hope that it will soon reach the standings and recognition of Call of Duty.

“We want Valorant and Call of Duty to be in the top ten in North America,” Clay stated.

Esports is a very competitive sport, so in order to maintain high standings, it takes an extensive amount of practice to play at a high professional level. Clay notes that the typical esports team practices around 20 hours per week, but he slightly alters it with his teams.

“[I let] each captain [set] their own schedule for practices [and] they’re usually around 12-20 hours a week. [My players] are very dedicated to their craft. They’re always in there trying to get better.”

Austin Clay

Peyton Elswick—third-year player, Overwatch Team Captain/Manager, and Valorant and Super Smash Bros Manager—is a prime example of one player that works extremely hard to be a professional esports player.

“I personally spend about four to seven hours practicing Overwatch every day of the week and try to ‘aim train’ for an hour a day,”

Peyton Elswick

In total, Elswick could spend up to forty-nine hours each week just practicing Overwatch. That is pure dedication like any traditional sport and will inspire other players to replicate her formula towards competing professionally.

As Concord’s variety of esports games expand and great amateur players are recruited to attend Concord, expect the spectacular. Concord’s Esports players are working hard to make a name for themselves and will continue to rise in recognition across the nation.

by Jared Sandy

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