Esports inaugural season looks promising at halfway point



AU Fortnite play Alec Mueller concentrates during a match earlier this season.

Zach Read

The newly formed Ashland University Esports team kicked off their inaugural season in the fall of 2018 and have stayed busy ever since.

E-gamers flooded into AU looking for a chance to earn a chance to play video games competitively and have the opportunity to represent a university.

The athletes spent the first semester of their inaugural season getting to know their teammates on a personal level and on a gaming level. The esports team consists of five different teams in which each team plays and competes towards one game specifically.

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is a team-based multiplayer first-person shooting game and is one of the games that is featured in AU esports. AU’s CS:GO team’s first half of the season consisted of numerous leagues that they participate in such as the Collegiate Starleague. The CS:GO team held a record of 4-3 in the first season and are currently 1-0 in this season.

“In the first stage we went through we played teams in Ohio but now we are branching out and are playing other college teams around the east coast,” AU freshman CS”GO player Seth Ho said.

This spring season the Eagles CS:GO team will play five matches and will have to try and qualify for the playoffs in which they would have a chance for a first place award of $30,000.

Although the athletes mainly compete online in esports, they still have the opportunity to travel to cities such as Columbus to compete.

“We have travelled to a local Columbus event called Game Arena and won that event and played Akron esports and Penn State University along the way,” Ho said.

Another featured esports game at AU is Fortnite which is the widely known game in esports where there are teams of two that compete head-to-head in each match.

The Eagles Fortnite team competed in eight matches in the fall season and will have six matches in the spring season but also compete in qualifier tournaments every two weeks in which prize money is involved.

“The qualifier tournament is 128 teams each time, you just sign up a few days before and you play that single elimination, 128 team bracket tournament,” AU junior Fortnite player Alec Mueller said.

Mueller said that you need to place in the top four to qualify for the Collegiate Starleague playoffs and in the first qualifier tournament Mueller and his teammate River Wheeler placed third and fourth.

“It’s awesome so that we don’t have to stress about it anymore,” Mueller said.

AU’s Hearthstone team, a multiplayer collectible card video game, also saw great success in their first inaugural season. After dropping their first two matches, the Eagles won five in a row to qualify for regionals in which they saw a number of familiar foes.

The Hearthstone team consisting of freshman Maverick Duncan and sophomores Chase Carrico and Mason Savoia played in a few close series but were not able to qualify for the regional playoffs.

With having a full semester under their belts, AU head coach Josh Buchanan is implementing new regiment to begin the spring season to add the disciplinary aspect to his team.

“This semester we are focusing on changing habits, where as last semester we focused on how you sit in position in our chairs and things like that,” Ho said. “This semester we are focusing on more in-game habits.”

The team also has lifting throughout the week as well as study tables that are new as of the spring semester. The athletes are also held to a 2.0 GPA just like regular student-athletes, although they are not officially NCAA athletes.

“I believe that the mentality of going and working out and getting that motivation just clears your mind and makes you way better as a player,” Ho said.

As far as practices go, Ho said that on Sundays the team will come together and review past matches and learn from their mistakes and small details, which is the equivalent to watching film like any other sports team.

After having the opportunity to spend a semester together and begin to know one another, the athletes on the AU esports team are coming together and are beginning to build chemistry with one another.

The focus of course is always to win, but in its first inaugural season, the AU esports team is just getting started in what will hopefully be the strong foundation of a new program.

“Our goals to are of course win but there is also a lot of adjustment period,” Ho said. “However, this season we are really starting to put the pieces together and are having a little bit more structure.”