By T’Neil Gooden
The Brooklyn College Esports Club has been making big moves this semester as they continue to flourish in collegiate gaming. Although you may not see them practicing on campus, the team’s efforts have put BC on the gaming map. The esports team has been winning most of the tournaments they have played in so far, but when will their efforts and wins finally be acknowledged?
“The goal when I started it [the Esports Club] was to get a genuine program here, but one that also took care of the average gamer to folks wanting to get together and build a community,” the former president and founder of the esports team, Xander Raff, told The Vanguard.
There are eight teams over five different esports that the club plays. There are teams for Valorant, League of Legends, Rocket League, Super Smash Bros, and Counter-Strike. Brooklyn College is currently competing in the Division I League for Super Smash Bros and Counter-Strike.
“We are very good, not just good relative to CUNY or New York City, but we are good regionally and even nationally,” Raff said. “Last year, we had 23 people total competing through the year, and this year, we have 60 people within the program.” The group started as a mere 40 members, and the club has now grown to over 600 members on their Discord account.
This past Friday, Dec. 1, Brooklyn’s Valorant team competed in the Brooklyn College Winter Invitational, making it to the finals where they beat Baruch College in a close match, ending their final game in a four-round overtime with a 15-13 victory.
The team played three full rounds: winning the first, losing the second, and coming out on top in the final. The players had outstanding games, with Elnur Myrzabekov, whose gaming name is BC Kira, hitting 30 kills in the first game against Baruch. BC Omega’s Jetson Liu had an amazing last round where he led the team with 28 kills, BC Kira had 19, and BC Asura’s Anthony Wong, BC Omega, BC Noodle’s Grant Finkelstein Smay, and BC Kenknee’s Kenny Ng followed closely behind with 18 kills each in the final round.
“We are a Division I-caliber program. If we were compared to traditional athletics, we would be a Division I program,” Raff said. “All the teams compete in the National Esports Collegiate Conference (NECC) and Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC), which are described as national competitive bodies, where they play top teams across the country week to week.”
These weekly competitions are done with two full days dedicated to practicing. There are days when scrimmages are done with teams on the same level as Brooklyn College for the players to master the skills they are focusing on practicing and improving upon. As of now, the players are practicing at home since they do not have a space on campus where they can work on their skills in different areas.
“We have no facilities in the school, so I have to be running everything from home,” Raff said.
Recruitment has continued to decrease among CUNY schools, and esports is a field that could build the traction of students coming to CUNY. Raff explained that esports could be the missing piece between students coming to and engaging with BC. There is now a team of 10 people who are continuing to lead the esports community at Brooklyn, and with more exposure from the college, student interest levels could potentially continue to increase as time goes by.
Until Brooklyn College administrators come to understand that colleges are adapting to the idea that esports is a competitive field that builds student population and school spirit, little attention will be brought to the school from those looking for these opportunities. “An end goal is to provide stipends to students who are in these gaming events so they can pay their tuition,” Raff said.
Brooklyn College is full of strong gamers looking for a community and places to express their talents. At the moment, the team is seeking a room on campus with around 12 computers where the gamers can practice as a team in one area. As of now, however, the team has to make plays and practice from their homes, which could hinder communication.
The Brooklyn College Esports and Gaming Club is having an excellent semester, with a win at the NECC against Southern New Hampshire University in League of Legends occurring this past Thursday, Nov. 30, taking them to the finals undefeated for the second time in a row. Of the three Valorant teams here at BC (BC Maroon, BC White, and BC Gold), the Valorant White team ended their season this past Monday, Dec. 4, as the NECC Champions, beating Utica University with a 3-0 game victory.
The teams have continued to pull through despite only practicing in their individual spaces. The club will continue to play various games for the remainder of the season, including League of Legends.