By Ryan Kryska
GCU News Bureau
The Grand Canyon University eSports Club reached another level this month when the varsity Overwatch team placed first in an invitation-only tournament.
The win was a taste of what’s to come for the growing club, which this week is moving from Thunder Alley into a new facility on the second floor of the Technology Building. Justen Johns, club president and varsity Overwatch captain, says the new clubhouse is three times the size of the students’ current space.
The club will be hosting an internet cafe 10 a.m. to midnight during Welcome Week so students interested in learning more can come see what all the hype is about.
“It’s a very welcoming community,” Johns said. “If you don’t know anyone as a freshman, you can come in and relate to a group of people who have been at the University for longer. Last year, I think we had 20 new freshmen come into our club, and we showed them the ropes and helped them get through the first year of college, which is extremely hard for freshmen with independence.”
The Aug. 4 Collegiate Starleague bracket was a 16-team, double-elimination tournament. The Lopes went undefeated, beating Florida State University twice to take home the $600 prize.
“After we played the final match and beat FSU 3-2, we all just put our headsets down and literally jumped out of our chairs, we were so excited,” Johns said. “It gets insane.”
That was the last tournament to be played in Thunder Alley. Next up: a 2,500-square-foot room that features 36 computer gaming stations, seven PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles, and a tournament station with a 75-inch TV.
“We are going to have a lot more room to move around,” said Johns, a senior computer science major. “Expanding into this new place is really going to open a lot of opportunities for us.”
Johns said the club’s community atmosphere will be on display at the welcome week event.
“Anyone can come in and play. (It's) an internet cafe thing -- couple dollars for a few hours of playing," he said. "Once you get in there you can play whatever games you own.”
The Collegiate Starleague win came on the heels of the Overwatch team’s stellar performance last year in the Tespa League Playoffs. The Lopes were seeded ninth out of 220 teams in the tournament and made it to the round of 16, just missing the cutoff for a share of $120,000 in scholarship prizes.
Johns said there will be open tryouts this fall for three different teams. But he emphasized that the club is open to all abilities. "You don’t have to be in just the top 500 to play -- we will find a team for you and you can play competitively no matter your skill,” he said.
Johns said the students who joined the lower teams doubled their skill level. But more importantly, they made friends.
“It’s a community that I can fall back on if I need something and I know I can trust them,” Johns said. “I think the bond that we have is more than just the game. We’ve grown as friends and we are probably going to be friends for the rest of our lives, hopefully, so it was really luck that this club brought us together.”
Contact Ryan Kryska at (602) 639-8415 or [email protected].
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