Many fans pack stadiums and arenas to watch their favourite teams or players. They are wearing their favourite jersey or other merchandise, buying concessions, chanting along with their fans. They fill the seats at legendary venues like Madison Square Garden, the Staples Centre, Bell Centre, or the Air Canada Centre. You may think that the described scene might be for a professional sports game, and you would still be correct.
It‘s just not the sport you think — it’s eSports, which has taken the world by storm and happens to be one of the fastest-growing sports in the world in both participation and viewership. Brock has also seen this trend and a couple of Badger games have brought Esports to St. Catharines.
Sport Management major Nathan Mrakuzic wants to, “be the person who brought Esports to Brock and develop it into a full-time job/program here at Brock.” He is the current president of Brock Esports and has been involved in competitive gaming since he was 14. He plays on Brock’s Call of Duty team in tournaments. Mrakuzic has put in the effort to see his dreams come true with regards to Brock Esports.
“It started out with me following my passion for video games and using the knowledge I’ve learned in the Sport Management program here at Brock, trying to build a club out of nothing,” said Mrakuzic. “Since (Brock Esports’) inception in September of 2017, it has been receiving a lot of attention. I was able to get into contact with many other video game-related clubs on campus and told them my idea of Brock Esports and what I wanted to do with it. Many of these other clubs jumped on board and I now have a fully-committed executive team that has helped my club reach many of my goals within a two-month span.”
“At the start of November, I had one FIFA team that consisted of two players and had only run one successful FIFA tournament. By the end of November, I had a Call Of Duty team, Overwatch team, and a Super Smash Brothers team which consisted of 30 competitive members in total. My Call Of Duty team played in their first tournament in February and our Super Smash Brothers team is hosting a ‘Team Battle’ against Niagara College on March 4, 2018. They will also be travelling to McMaster later in the year to compete in another tournament.”
The club now also has upcoming battles and tournaments against Niagara College and at McMaster.
Even on the largest stage of them all in the sporting world, more and more people are beginning to embrace Esports.
The new NBA 2K League is set to begin in May 2018. Directly run by the NBA as a side to real and professional, basketball, 17 NBA teams have signed up to the league. Representing the Toronto Raptors is the Raptors Uprising Gaming Club, hoping to bring the inaugural championship north of the border. Fit with a combine and a draft, the NBA 2K League is undoubtedly a professional sports league.
The main struggle of Esports has been with the critics who oppose its credibility as a sport, of which Mrakuzic takes issue.
“The critics who say Esports are not the same as sports just don’t understand it yet,” said Mrakuzic, “I have studied and compared the two, and both the level of competition and the consumption of sports and Esports are identical. Everything about Esports is “sports”. The way it is consumed and played [is the same] via television, live streams, highlight videos, player interviews, commentators (called “shoutcasters”), teamwork, jerseys, competition and most importantly, skill level.”
Mrakuzic would like to invite anyone, from the casual gamer to the most hardcore players, to come and check out all that Brock Esports has to offer.
“Brock Esports also provides an opportunity for students that may not be athletically inclined to participate in live competition.”
The club provides drop-in hours to play in the Issac’s Lounge during the week from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and runs sports game tournaments periodically. If you are interested in joining Brock Esports regularly or just to play sometime and blow off some steam, check them out at “Brock Esports” on Facebook for tryout, tournament and all other information.