On Thursday night, the energy was palpable in the fresh Esports Arena at University of Missouri–St. Louis, as students assembled for digital duels.
Over 50 UMSL students filled the new Esports Arena, formerly the Pilot House, located on the Millennium Student Center’s ground floor, for Triton esports’ Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Tournament. A Nintendo Switch prize was also up for grabs in the raffle.
The novel esports program was founded earlier this summer, and on Thursday, it was officially unveiled to the UMSL community. For a number of months now, Bovey Zhang, the program’s first coach, has been guiding its development. He is focused on creating a varsity team of approximately 20 players, who will compete in coordinated, competitive, multiplayer video games.
“At the moment, this is our tentative launch,” Zhang Commentary. “Our priority is to examine the students’ level of interest and engagement in esports. In the coming week, open tryouts for other games such as League of Legends, Valorant, and FIFA will be held from August 28th to September 1st. After this soft launch, there will be a grand opening event on September 30.”
To begin with, the program will target four games: League of Legends, Valorant, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and FIFA. In the long run, Zhang intends to develop the varsity squad even further, featuring more games such as Call of Duty, Rocket League, Brawlhalla, and Counter-Strike, with the aim of recruiting 5-10 players for each title.
The excitement was tangible as thirty-eight students enrolled to compete in the tournament for a chance to join the Triton esports squad. Scholarships were received by the top four participants and a place on the Super Smash Bros. team was secured by the top eight finishers.
The night ended with Joseph Lee as the overall winner. The second place was secured by Riley Kempf, while Joshua Cully and Michel F. Brun claimed third and fourth places respectively. Each one of them won a scholarship and a spot on the newly formed team.
Zhang had a final message to share: “Our official launch is slated for September 30. On this day, we are going to invite the public and the local community to the grand opening of our arena to let them revel in the thrill of our burgeoning esports hub. I would like to express my gratitude to each and every one of you for supporting us in this endeavor. UMSL’s esports program is all set to create ripples in the gaming world. Let’s keep supporting the spirit of teamwork and fervor that epitomizes the world of gaming.”