College Basketball isn’t the only tournament happening this March. Gamers will have their own March Madness as part of TESPA’s Overwatch Collegiate Championship — and NJIT has made the field.
Finishing 11th in TESPA’s regular season rankings with a record of 13-2, the Highlanders have punched their ticket to the tournament. More than 400 colleges and universities take part in TESPA’s Overwatch league, where students test their skills and earn scholarship money.
NJIT team captain Nicholas Abadiotakis, a junior computer engineering major, said the Highlanders have ranked as high as #1 in the TESPA’s poll but the rankings — much like the AP Top 25 for basketball or football — change often during the season, which began early in the fall semester.
By retaining a rank in the top 28 at the end of the regular season, NJIT has secured a spot in TESPA’s National League Overwatch Collegiate Championship.
Professor DJ Kehoe of the Ying Wu College of Computing, the academic advisor of the NJIT esports club, described TESPA as “the NCAA for college gaming.”
Jira Uttarapong, a junior computer science major with a minor in game development, is president of the club. It has about 100 members throughout NJIT playing on different teams based on their gaming interest. Current game teams include Overwatch, Smash Bros Ultimate, League of Legends, Rocket League and Rainbow Six Siege. Teams have weekly matches and practice about eight hours a week.
Uttarapong, who joined NJIT as transfer student, said a strong gaming program at NJIT’s Ying Wu College of Computing and a thriving gaming scene among the students played a role in choosing to continue her academic career at NJIT.
“I’ve always been interested in gaming. NJIT’s gaming scene was a very big factor for me in determining where to go,” she said. “It’s always been a vision of mine to get something like this going, and it was great to find it was already here.”
Blake Easton, a freshman biomedical engineering major, is also a member of the Overwatch team. He said an active gaming community also played a role in his college selection.
“I played for an esports team in high school. When I looked at colleges I talked to the coaches at the college,” Easton said, describing a process similar to what a more traditional student athlete might take when considering where to combine their academic and playing careers.
“It’s what I do for fun, and it gives me a social group,” he said.
How to join:
Stop by the bi-weekly game nights 7-10:30 p.m. on Wednesdays in the Campus Atrium. Contact the club at email@example.com.