Esports experiences boom at Rider

By Shaun Chornobroff and Olivia Nicoletti

Most people grew up on generic sports. Odds are that many readers spent Sundays watching football or participated in a sport like basketball, baseball, softball or soccer as a kid. But at Rider University — and around the country — esports are on the rise.

The esports club at Rider has improved tremendously in recent years. When Alyssa Santiago, a senior biology major and the president of esports and co-captain of the League of Legends team joined the club as a sophomore there were not enough people to form teams, but now the club has 30 to 35 people attending each week.

Super Smash Bros. and Overwatch teams, both popular games in competitive circles, have expanded enough to enter tournaments where they started competing and winning games. In all, as esports has been growing, itsoverall scores have been increasing drastically.

“It is growing at this point, esports can be very interesting. From a game to game basis, just as people like hockey or basketball over any other sport, you have to find the game that appeals to you. I think that esports can be as interesting as a traditional sport but you have to find one you like,” said Michael Cangelosi, a junior computer science major and a captain of the Overwatch team.

The esports club is composed of several different teams, including a League of Legends team, an Overwatch team and a Super Smash Bros. team, and is hoping to add more in the future.

The only active teams right now are Overwatch and Super Smash Bros., a League of Legends team is slated to start competing in the spring semester.

Everyone competes online and the games are streamed on Twitch.

League of Legends, categorized as a multiplayer online battle arena, is a strategy based-game of 5 vs. 5 where each team works together to destroy the opposing team’s bases.

Overwatch is a team-based game of 6 vs. 6 including different positions; king of the hill, assault, hybrid and escort. Every team plays in three games and whoever wins the most all together is declared winner of the round.

The most popular of the games, Super Smash Bros., is 5 vs. 5 however each player on each team will play 1 vs. 1, this game is based off of stocks.

Stocks may sound confusing, but it can be described as lives. In a Super Smash Bros. match each player gets three stocks — whoever has stocks last wins their individual match. Each match has five separate 1 vs. 1s.

The atmosphere of the esports Club, like any other sport, is energetic and fun, it is essential to love competing when being a part of this environment.

“For League of Legends we are all very close, we have been playing together for 3 years now and we really get along,” said Santiago. “With the new people that come in we always try to make them feel welcomed and included.”

The esports Club not only competes and practices, but on Friday nights it holds casual game nights where everyone comes to relax and have fun. Members within the club are not the only ones able to come, this night is open to anyone interested in playing games. During casual game night they play games such as Among Us or Minecraft.

“In terms of relationship, it feels like a friendship from the start. Also, due to current situations of COVID, we have everything done online so there is the animosity that we don’t really get to see each other or know each other in person,” said Cangelosi. “We can be goofy and stupid about it and it is a fun side I have seen so far and I appreciate everybody.”

The Super Smash Bros team is a member of Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) which partnered with the Electronic Gaming Federation (EGF) this year.

However, Overwatch is independent of the MAAC and a part of EGF Collegiate (EGFC).

The club’s partnership with EGF and the MAAC has been a big part of its growth and another reason the club is able to stream games, which Santiago believes gives a new platform where they now feel as if they are not competing in the shadows.

“During an average match there are more than 20 people are tuning in, all across different schools. There are a few people from Rider University coming to watch, a few from the other team will watch and then you’ll get a few more people from other schools tuning in,” Santiago said.

The esports members are collectively trying to improve the club. Specifically captains and co-captains are aiming to create strategies, to plan out events with other schools and trying to find ways to get the team together.

“We’re always messing around, however, when we are practicing we always listen to each other for what needs to be done,” Santiago said.

“As for myself I try to keep everyone in good spirits,” Cangelosi said.

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