Esports brings competitive gaming to light


Jordan Baron

Members of the rocket league team practicing in the NUEsports play space inside Squashbusters.

Jordan Baron, sports editor

Communication. Practice. Dedication. Hard work. Persistence. Focus. All key aspects to baseball, soccer, football, hockey and … video games.

That’s right — esports, or competitive video gaming, is a growing community of competitors who devote their time to practicing a particular game in hopes of competing with other players around the world.

Tournaments spanning the globe grow in popularity each year, as some of the major games put up prize pools amounting to millions of dollars for the first-place winner.

At Northeastern, the esports community is organized into one club sport organization called NUEsports. The organization has been around since 2017 and is home to teams from 11 different game titles ranging from competitive card games like Hearthstone to first-person shooters like Counter Strike: Global Offensive.

The organization began as multiple teams for different games attempted to create their own NU team.

“At the time there were teams starting clubs like Counter Strike, Rocket League, Overwatch, so we decided instead of doing different clubs we should partner up and do one club,” said Rick Menasce, the eSports administrative and operations assistant at Club Sports.

Each game title has three to four teams that run within it. Most of these teams compete at the same skill level, but they are labeled A, B, C and so on. Within the club, there are over 30 individual teams.

The team has also worked out a deal with the university athletics department that allows them to have their own playing and practice space. It is located in Squashbusters and is host to many gaming setups where teams practice their skills and prepare for tournaments. Most competitions, excluding the large championships, are online, so a lot of the actual competing takes place in their playing space as well.

Like many club sports teams, tryouts are the main method by which players are recruited. This year, incoming students and club members were able to come to the club headquarters to show off their skills.

“Normally we have three club sports teams which compete in Rocket League … but this year we actually had enough talent where we were able to field four teams for club sports, so that is cool and will add another element to our program,” said Travis Peabody, the Rocket League game chair.

While many mark off video gaming and esports as an activity that cannot be related to actual competitive sports, many within the gaming community believe it to be widely comparable to any sport out there.

“In most esports there is still a level of physical prowess, usually in precision. The ability to control your body at a very precise level is very important in esports,” said third-year Luis Prata, a member of the club Hearthstone team. “There is still a very strong competitive attitude there, which is something that is seen in every sport. There is a drive to win, the drive to improve yourself and the love for the competition.”

Communication is also widely important in most esports, as it is in traditional sports like football, basketball or hockey.

“Communication is the biggest thing,” said Will Decramer, the Hearthstone game director. “No matter whether you are playing football or playing Overwatch, the sheer level of communication and how in sync you have to be with the other [players]. You have to be really well practiced.”

For Menasce, who has been partaking in both competitive esports and competitive traditional sports for years of his life, the debate over the definition of esports is not of concern.

“Honestly, for me it doesn’t matter if it is [classified as a sport] or if it isn’t,” he said. “At the end of the day it is here, and it is here to stay.”