Sept. 25, 2020 | By Ian Chalmers | Illustration by Xixi Qin

The Colorado College Esports Team has experienced much success in their short history. From dominating in League of Legends and Overwatch, to creating a sense of community in which gamers, both casual and competitive, can come together, the Esports team has been a fine addition to the Colorado College community. But how did it all start?

Josh Lauer ’19, now an alum, is proud of the project he was able to complete with the help of others, notably Lily Chen ’19 and Chad Schonewill ’03. When he was a freshman back in 2015, Lauer quickly realized that CC was very outdoorsy. Most of the students talk about taking on the Manitou Incline, hiking, rock climbing, and kayaking. But what about students who prefer to relax by demolishing one another in Super Smash Bros?

In an interview, Lauer noted the rise of esports on campus. At the beginning of his time on campus, he would use the projector in the Loomis lounge to play Smash with friends. Eventually it grew so popular that he started to host tournaments during Block Breaks. At first, his primary focus was on Smash, but he soon began thinking of a way in which all of the gamers on campus, who were decentralized at this point, could come together.

During his sophomore year, Lauer worked at ITS in Tutt Library, a perfect place to get to know the people who would help bring the Esports team into fruition. Together, with Chen, who was mostly into Dota, he was able to create a video game club with funds allocated by CCSGA.

Finally, Lauer and Chen were able to take the club to the next level, creating the Overwatch team. At this point, the newly formed CC Esports team repurposed the old GIS lab in Palmer. They stocked the Esports lab with top-of-the-line gear to ensure the best for CC’s gamers. According to Lauer, from the very beginning, one of their missions was to make Esports more accessible to CC students.

At this point, then-President Tiefenthaler was also the chair of the Southern Colligate Athletic Conference (SCAC), and helped the SCAC schools create the first ever Division III Esports tournament. SCAC was the holy grail for CC Esports players. Players practiced for an entire year to prepare for the tournament.  In April 2019, CC students flew out to Kerrville, Texas, to compete against other schools.

A student worker then, Lauer handled the broadcast of the tournament on Twitch. Lauer, although very busy monitoring the games and commentating along with Brain Leech ’20 and Marco Tapia ’22, said that when he was able to look around and explore the building, it was a very cool feeling. “Players would shake one another’s hands, win or lose,” said Lauer as players sat 20 feet from one another and competed in their respective games for the grand prize.

“Never in a million years would I think that the college would fly us out to play League, Smash, Overwatch, and Fortnite,” said Lauer, and the school’s investment paid off as the Tigers dominated the field and won the competition. Overwatch took 10 points, League of Legends took another 10, Smash Ultimate took 8, and Fortnite took 8 for a grand total of 36 points. Austin College came in second with a total of 26 points and Schreiner University came in third with a total of 20 points. SCAC ’19 gave CC Esports a lot of credibility as the winners of the tournament. Players have been practicing the entire 2019-20 school year to defend their title, and they were about a week out from participating in SCAC ’20 before the COVID-19 situation in the U.S. grew worse and everything started shutting down.

“It will be hard to see if SCAC will be happening in person, so far the plan is to do everything remotely,” said Lauer, as the virus continues to ravage around the world with the WHO reporting that widespread availability of vaccines will not be available until mid-2021. Currently, the plan is for SCAC ’21 to be held completely remotely, and thus the Tigers will still be able to represent the school at the tournament.

Esports is probably one of the few, if not only, sports that can be done remotely. Despite that, it will not be an easy process. Students may not possess computers powerful enough to run their games, some students may live in remote or rural areas where internet access may not be fast enough to compete, and international students may not be able to compete because of time zone differences and an increase in ping as they try to join U.S. servers.

Right now, CC Esports is trying to fill up their rosters, and as they are having trouble doing so, they are basically taking anyone who is willing to play. Before COVID-19, students would drop into practices and play, and if their skill level was adequate for what the team was looking for, the prospective player would join. Now, however, CC Esports is actively looking for new recruits for the first time.

The specific teams in need of more players are: League of Legends, Rocket League, Overwatch, Fortnite, Smash, and Call of Duty. Even if you do not play these games, feel free to join the Esports community, as they have more niche communities such as DND, Speed Running, Animal Crossing, and more. The sky is really the limit when it comes to CC Esports, and the team sees Esports as a way for students to feel engaged in the community even if stuck at home. 

If you are interested in joining any of the teams, or just want to join the greater CC Esports community discord, email Josh Lauer at jwlauer@coloradocollege.edu or join the discord server at discord.gg/Ker2Vqa.

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