Ashland University Hosts Esports open tryouts

Noah Cloonan

Ashland University’s Esports team is beginning to take its final form as they hosted open tryouts for anyone on campus during the first week of classes.

On February 1, 2018, AU announced the addition of Esports to their fall 2018 lineup and with the fall semester now in full swing, the Eagles are ready to open the Esports era in Ashland.

Josh Buchanan, the head coach of AU’s newest athletic team, hosted open tryouts for all five games that AU will be competing in.

Twenty current AU students attended the open tryouts and from those 20 players, four were chosen to continue on with the team.

Ziqian (Candy) Shen and Yang (Andy) Shao were selected to compete in “League of Legends.”
Sarah Vejsicky made the “Overwatch” team and Chase Rowe, who is also a member of the football team, was one of the four selected and will be competing in Fortnite.

AU Esports has received a lot of interest from around the country regarding their program over the last six months but the biggest draw came for Fortnite.

Ashland has received national attention from ESPN and other major publications about the addition of the school’s Fortnite team, which became the first Esports team to offer scholarships for that game.

Buchanan said that he received well over 2,000 applications for the Fortnite portion of the team alone.

“It was a process,” Buchanan said. “A big goal of the administration when they brought people here was they want new students here. They always want new people here with new interests and new personalities and cultures.”

Piecing together an entire team in just a few months time was not an easy task for Buchanan, but luckily for the Eagles, they did not have to search too far for some of their student-athletes.

“Prior to tryouts we have nine people on campus who had played and then were interested and those people are all on the team and then we have 20 new students to Ashland who are on the team and they came from all over the place.”

The Esports team will feature students from as far as Arizona and Alabama and Buchanan said that many of these students would never have even considered AU if it were not for Esports.

Tryouts for Esports are similar to tryouts you would see on any other athletic team.

“First of all they have to love the game they play, they got to really enjoy it, play it a lot and have the desire to get better,” Buchanan said. “Number two, they have to be coachable and a good personality for the team. Number three, you have to be good.”

Buchanan said that he looks at everything from the players statistics in the game they are trying out for as well as how they interact with the players already on the team.

“We are an athletic team just like baseball, basketball and football and some people are good enough to make the team and some people are not.”

Ashland University is continuing to fine tune the details on what the Esports competitions will look like as they embark on their inaugural season.