October 25, 2016
Video games aren’t always what you would associate with collegiate-level sports, but the UCCS Overwatch team is proving that they can be just as competitive.
The UCCS Overwatch team is preparing for the Tespa Collegiate Series – Overwatch, a gaming competition that incorporates college teams across the U.S. They will face other teams of six in shooting matches online.
The five-round competition started on Oct. 1 and will run through Jan. 31. Different regions of the U.S. will compete at various times.
With over 200 teams competing in the tournament, the team hopes to place for large prizes.
Players who make it between first and eighth place receive up to $1,000 in scholarship money; first place competitors receive $6,000, according to JJ Cramer, coordinator for UCCS Overwatch.
“We’re doing our best, we’re playing for fun, and if we play at all of our assigned games we get a free T-shirt, so that’s always fun,” said Cramer.
Overwatch has over 15 million active players, proving to be one of the most successful competitive tournaments this year.
The UCCS team was formed this summer after Tespa hosted a summer series, according to Cramer, a senior computer science major.
Tespa is a collection of gaming clubs that run collegiate-level tournaments with cash and scholarship prizes for top players.
The team chose the Overwatch competition over Tespa’s other races, which include Hearthstone Training Grounds and Heroes Training Grounds, because of the team’s lack of training.
“We don’t have the greatest talent pool when you look at some other schools in this tournament,” said Cramer.
“There are players from other schools that are on professional teams right now, and they are playing for the chance at scholarship money. These guys have been practicing for months.”
The UCCS team had players that were some of the first to try the beta version of the gaming site, including Aaron McAdam, co-manager of the team.
McAdam, a senior network security major, spent a lot of time playing Overwatch with Cramer when it first came out.
“We were both really excited about it. We played the beta when it came out, and we put easily 200 plus hours into it,” said McAdam.
McAdam was excited to start the team after the summer series passed. Both Cramer and McAdam were selective in who they chose for the Overwatch team, picking the six best players from over 60 applicants.
“It’s hard to prove to people how good you can be,” said Cramer.
“I actually brought in a professional player from Arizona State University to help look over the footage I recorded as well as communication between teammates.”
The site’s popularity is due to its wide variety of options for all gamers, according to Cramer.
“People who come from other games like Counterstrike or Quake love the first-person shooter elements. People coming from DOTA or League of Legends love the fact that there are a lot of abilities such as cooldowns,” said Cramer.
Overwatch has filled the void of Team Fortress 2, a team-based shooter video game, said McAdam.
“(Team Fortress 2) was hugely popular among everybody, and it lost its luster over the years. Then Overwatch came and it sort of brought back that arena based shooter that we didn’t have anymore,” said McAdam.
More information on Tespa’s Overwatch competition can be found at compete.tespa.org/tournament/27.