Kettering University students can now take their love of esports to a new level of competition with the formation of varsity and academy teams that play Overwatch, League of Legends and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
On Friday, May 1, six colleges and universities throughout the state established the first Michigan esports Conference (MEC) of which Kettering University esports coach and IT staff member Dan Nowaczyk was elected Competition Chair.
“It’s an absolute honor to have been chosen by my peers to represent esports across the state and to represent this amazing institution as a founding member of the conference,” said Nowaczyk. “I’m able to live my dream - working in esports after playing for years and to be part of a movement to make collegiate conference play a reality for schools across the state.”
Other competing members in the conference are: Aquinas College, Northwood University, Concordia University (Ann Arbor), Davenport University and Michigan Technological University.
The new conference offers Kettering’s teams opportunities to compete against other Michigan colleges and universities, maintain a schedule of competition and “start creating excitement and school spirit around the sport,” according to Viola Sprague, Vice President of Instructional, Administrative and Information Technology at Kettering University.
The Super Smash Bros. Ultimate team currently competes weekly in online tournaments against some of the top players in the state at both collegiate and high school levels. The League of Legends and Overwatch teams are participating in scrimmages and small online tournaments.
In the future, the team hopes to host local tournaments on campus.
“It's been a ton of work, some long weekends, blood, sweat and tears, but it's all been worth it,” said Nowaczyk. “A lot of other schools who have organizations already have been very impressed with how quickly we were able to make this happen. The students have been very receptive and are having a ton of fun with it.”
Kettering had 70 students apply for at least one game during the first set of tryouts and currently have nearly 40 students on its rosters among the three games. Plans are currently underway to add Rainbow Six: Siege as well as Rocket League sometime between summer and fall.
Mechanical Engineering student Lauren Ward, has been playing League of Legends for years and participated in many tournaments. Now she’s excited to be part of the University’s first esports effort.
“It's honestly quite an honor to be a part of the very first Kettering team, especially as a woman,” said Ward, who is a junior. “When it comes to gaming and academic choices, there shouldn't be any rifts or barriers preventing anyone from doing what their heart tells them to.
“I hope to set an example for other women, at Kettering and beyond, to feel like it's okay for them to pursue esports,” she added. “Pick up the controller, take a deep breath, and show them the fire you are made of.”