Warrior Esports Center levels up at El Camino

Sociology major Vianka Smith (back) and her friend Diana Ojeda (front) share laughs after getting “spawn-killed” over a fun and intense match playing “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2” at the Warrior Esports Center on Feb. 27. Smith said that she doesn’t have access to play video games at home, but she enjoys going to the center to play games for fun. (Khoury Williams | The Union)

Two opposing factions are getting ready to face off against each other across Al Bagra Fortress, a medieval-inspired battlefield located in a fictional West Asian country.

The first round begins.

The sounds of grenade explosions can be heard in the background as bullets whistle through the air, flying past the player-controlled character as they run toward the main hall of the fortress.

Spotted by an enemy player, the main operator readies their Kastov-74U rifle, only to be met by an opposing player who guns them down before they could even let out a shot.

The two players seated at their desks begin laughing hysterically

“Oops, that’s embarrassing! Let me try again,” 19-year-old sociology major Vianka Smith said.

These intense, yet fun encounters on “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2” is one of several video game experiences players can enjoy at the Warrior Esports Center, located in the East basement of Schauerman Library next to the Makerspace.

While Esports remains a central focus, the center acts as a social hub catering to those unfamiliar with video games, as well as casual and competitive gamers to spend time before or after classes to hang out and take advantage of the space.

What began as a concept last fall semester has now become a fully realized video game hub featuring 20 available gaming computers, one Samsung television, and four support seats dedicated to viewing and observation.

The bright and colorful lights from five high-powered PCs illuminate the room of the Warrior Esports Center on Feb. 27. All PCs were purchased from ibuypower.com and comes equipped with an “Nvidia RTX” 3070 graphics card, an AMD 5600x desktop processor, 16 gigabytes of RAM, a one terabyte SSD and two terabytes HDD as the storage. (Khoury Williams | The Union)

El Camino College community members can reserve the desk of their choice for up to two hours per day.

The games available at the Warrior Esports Center are pre-installed on each PC, however, students can make suggestions on the list of approved games for any additions that they may want to see, according to Library Resource Staff Assistant Pablo Ortiz.

While the Warrior Esports Center boasts a wide selection of playable games such as “Halo: Infinite” and “World of Warcraft,” the main five supported esports titles are “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2,” “Valorant,” “Overwatch 2,” “League of Legends” and “Rocket League.”

Tryouts for esports teams open in the fall semester and all El Camino College students taking a minimum of 12-semester units with a 2.0 GPA or higher are welcome to apply.

Electronics and computer hardware technology major Joshua Diaz chooses to relax in between classes playing rhythm-based games like “Osu!” at the Warrior Esports Center on Feb. 27. Diaz said he prefers smaller independent video games compared to most esports and big-budget games. (Khoury Williams | The Union)

Business major Casey Nykaza,19, and computer science major Riley Mayuga, 18, are members of the Warriors’ “Valorant” team. They practice in the Warrior Esports Center every week, participating in tournament games every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday.

During the winter season, the Warriors placed 16th place overall in the College Valorant West winter tournament, featuring dozens of colleges such as the University of Southern California and the University of Arizona.

Mayuga first discovered a notice about tryouts for the esports teams through the El Camino Canvas portal.

“I found out [about esports] through the Canvas dashboard. I saw one of the announcements was an esports thing, so I was like, I should join because I really like video games,” Mayuga said.

Computer science major Riley Mayuga (front) and business major Casey Nykaza (back) play a practice match of “Valorant” together at the Warrior Esports Center on Feb. 27 to prepare for the next College tournament game. The “Valorant” esports team is 2-1 overall in its current season. (Khoury Williams | The Union)

To both Mayuga and Nykaza, one of the benefits of being on the “Valorant” esports team and being in the Warrior Esports Center is being able to build social connections.

According to the founder and president of the esports club, Luisa Paredes, the “Valorant,” “Overwatch 2” and “Rocket League” esports teams are all 2-1 in their current season. The Warriors’ “League of Legends” season will begin on March 6.

Currently, The Warrior’s tournaments are played online at the homes of each player and are often streamed through the WarriorEsportsECC Twitch page, however, there are plans to host tournaments in the Center itself.

“We’re still trying to figure out in ways to plan those tournaments, and also trying to have more of the foundation set up,” Library student employee Angel Tapia said. “The room is going to be constantly changing, to get to the point where we want it to be.”

Outside of esports, several students such as Smith and her friend Diana Ojeda, 18, utilize the Warrior Esports Center as a way to relax and reduce stress after their classes.

“[Warrior Esports Center] is honestly a destresser. I can just come down here and enjoy playing the games,” Smith said.

Studio Arts major, Diana Ojeda (front) instructs her friend Vianka Smith (back) through a match of “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2” at the Warrior Esports Center on Feb. 27. Ojeda said that she has her own PC gaming setup at home but enjoys going to the center to make friends and play games without pressure. (Khoury Williams | The Union)

Smith doesn’t have access to video games at home, though the Warrior Esports Center allows her to play games and socialize at the same time.

Smith’s friend Ojeda introduced her to games like “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2” and helps to give her tips on how to play.

“It’s fun seeing [Smith] try out games that she hasn’t tried before and I’m able to help her out with that and it feels just like playing games on my own as well,” Studio Arts major Ojeda said.

The Warrior Esports Center is open from 8 a.m. to 6:45 p.m. every Monday through Thursday and closes at 4:15 p.m. every Friday.

“The [Warrior Esports] Center is open for everybody,” Tapia said. “All gamers and non-gamers are welcome. If [anyone] has an interest to try the game out, they’re all welcome to play. It’s not only for competitive [gamers], it’s open for everybody.”

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