April 21, 2023 | SPORTS | By Nick Bennett

Have you ever stayed up into the wee hours of the night grinding the next milestone on your favorite video game? Did your parents then get mad at you for spending too much time on the computer and messing up your sleep schedule? Well, that happened to me quite often growing up. Video games are definitely still a passion of mine; that being said, they have always just been a hobby.

Giancarlo Villaverde ‘25, an Esports “League of Legends” player, recalled a similar story. Like me, his mom always told him not to spend too much time on video games. However, to Villaverde, it is so much more than a hobby. Now, he and the Colorado College Esports Teams are among the few varsity teams to bring a Southern College Athletic Conference Championship Trophy back home to campus.

On any given day, the walls of the Palmer Hall basement seem gloomy with the dread of dense readings and political science essays. However, just one floor below that, you can find countless people laughing and jokingly yelling at their friends over video games. This place is the Esports Lab.

I personally spent a lot of time there during my freshman year. It is one of the few places on campus open 24/7 once you get swipe access. It was a way to stay close with my friends from home, finish a few readings here and there, and then get way too invested freeing imaginary hostages in “CS:GO.”

This sacred space is home to the several varsity Esports teams at CC. After grinding away in two-hour practices several times a week, these teams have become a family on campus; not just with the players in their individual games, but within their whole Esports community.

Day and night, they are consistently interacting, joking, and sometimes yelling at each other (in the most loving way, of course). However, to the Esports athletes, games are not just a hobby frowned upon by parents, but instead something that can be turned into a bonafide career path. The varsity Esports teams at Colorado College not only dedicate as much of their time as other varsity sports but also take away many similar life lessons that other athletes express.

After talking with Rio Guzman ‘24, a dual Esport Athlete, he explained that team games such as “League of Legends,” “Valorant,” “Rocket League,” “Overwatch 2,” and “Apex Legends” teach their players valuable team building and communication skills. Like lacrosse, hockey, soccer, and any other team sport, you can’t succeed without developing a good team dynamic. Guzman also described how single-player games like “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate” teach you how to hone a skill, develop a strong work ethic, and create a healthy amount of self-reliance.

As any athlete knows, obtaining these skills does not happen overnight. It is through hard work and dedication that the Esports players of CC can call themselves varsity athletes.

And due to their perseverance, the varsity teams of “League of Legends,” “Rocket League,” “Valorant,” “Apex Legends,” and “Super Smash Bros Ultimate” recently embarked on a long journey to San Antonio, Tx. for the much-anticipated SCAC Championship. Other than the actual competition, this trip also included night swims, fence hopping, good food, and friendly “off the court” rivalry between players.

However, what takes the cake is, without a doubt, the SCAC trophy. The simple wood, metal, and glass trophy doesn’t put into words the weight of its significance.

Imagine this: You’ve trained for months, ready to defeat any opponent in your way. Finally, you step on to the stage. Lights shine on you. Professional Esports athletes announce your name as you approach the chair. The cheers of your teammates and friends fades into the background. This is the moment. The one you’ve waited for.

Most people would crumble under such pressure. But not our CC players. With a cool face and mind, they obliterated their competition. Ranking first place in “Valorant” and “Rocket League,” second in “Smash and Apex Legends,” and fifth in “League of Legends,” they were able to secure the overall SCAC Conference victory.

Esports at CC is more than just a fun time in an underground gaming laboratory. It’s a genuine sports team that encompasses all the blood, sweat, and tears of a typical sport. Through those trials and tribulations, our athletes brought home one of the most sought-after varsity achievements. The family of Esports at CC is not one to take lightly and is now receiving that recognition nationally.

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