Coming online: Inside the long-awaited opening of UCF Esports’ Dungeon | Sports

A cardboard sign on the door to the nearly-open Dungeon esports lab in the Student Union reads, “Closed – Under Construction.” The new facility has been under active construction since the spring 2022 semester.

After a series of construction setbacks, the new facility for the Esports at UCF club team is set to open soon.

Named the Dungeon, the facility will open with space for as many as 10 players in a five-on-five matchup, with room for a second set of 10, plus a broadcast desk for practice and match reviews. It was originally supposed to open during the fall 2021 semester, but landed on an initial projected opening for the spring 2022 semester. A variety of snags pushed it to now, where it is intended to open as early as Feb. 25 and as late as March 5.

UCF Student Union Director Rick Falco said the delays were initially caused by concerns over the percentage of electrical circuits taken on the panel that the Dungeon would occupy. It was determined the Dungeon could draw from additional circuits for its power, but a conflict with a concurrently-running HVAC project in the Student Union necessitated a study to ensure the panel would not go over capacity. All that, plus drawing permits, took up most of the fall 2022 semester.

“It was a very aggressive timeline to be open in spring of ’22,”  Falco said. “Once we realized we weren’t going to do that, we’re like, ‘it’s okay. We’ll take our time, make sure we do it right.'”

Esports at UCF President Carson Zophres said that team leadership was frustrated over the delays.

“Now that we’re in … a total of six delays, wow, we’re happy it’s finally coming out, and more like relieved at this point,” Zophres said. “I’m gonna be graduating soon, so having this done at this point is just nice.”

Falco said the remainder of the wait would be for the Dungeon to acquire a hardwired internet connection, which is faster and more reliable for esports players. 

Esports at UCF’s status as a sport club allowed it an allocation this year, which enabled the team to purchase peripherals for the facility, such as headsets and keyboards. Additional funds from the UCF Sport Clubs organization, which Zophres estimated to be around $16,000, allowed the team to buy monitors and computers.

There is also the matter of the club going varsity. Zophres said although the Dungeon’s 10 PCs are great for its current status as a sport club, Esports at UCF would need a bigger facility in the future should it join up as a varsity athletics team.

Falco said the matter of the club outgrowing the Dungeon depends on the team’s growth and involvement in UCF Athletics.

“If it goes varsity, this is not gonna suit the team,” Falco said. “It would need to be a bigger facility, and we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”

Nicholas Jambe, Esports at UCF’s event coordinator, said a varsity program could hopefully come about to attract players on scholarships and prevent further competitive damage in the face of lower rankings this past semester.

“We went from having a top 16 South Conference-competing ‘League of Legends’ team, a top eight-in-the-world ‘Rocket League’ team,” Jambe said. “All the talent and different skillsets and players that we could have are now going to those other universities because those universities can offer stuff that we can’t.”

Kylie Welch, the team’s treasurer, said by not properly organizing esports on campus, UCF is missing out on a “super-marketable” opportunity.

“We’re waiting on them to realize that this is a real thing that they need to jump on before it’s too late,” Welch said.

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