MOUNT VERNON, Iowa (KWWL) — A new type of sports team started up for the first time ever at Cornell College, and teams just like it are taking over university campus’ across the country.
It’s not the type of team people typically think of, it’s an e-sports program.
On Cornell’s campus, you’ll find a room that was transformed in only a matter of months. It’s not your average sports field but it’s where the varsity players battle it out in teams online.
“It’s just like any other collegiate program for athletics, we will compete against other universities,” said Cornell’s E-Sports Head Coach, Mayson Sheehan.
There are no locker rooms or required uniforms, but there’s plenty of strategy and lots of teamwork.
“There’s a lot of important information that you need to know, but you can only see your screen,” said Sheehan, “We would sit down as a team and watch replays just like a football team or soccer team might watch replays.”
For gamers, like Junior and Computer Science Major, Cheyenne Brockett, who helped get the program started. It’s a chance to turn what may feel like an isolating experience into something much more competitive.
“Before I was playing it alone, in my dorm room for hours at a time after doing homework or work. Now it’s like I actually have a place to go and see people I know actually playing the game,” said Brockett.
Teams like this one are quickly growing in popularity says Sheehan, “In 2014, there were no e-sport programs. In 2016, there were 7. In 2018, there were over 150. This year, I don’t know the exact number but it’s growing. It’s a very fast-growing industry.”
Students can even get recruited and earn scholarships. The teams are not apart of the NCAA but rather NAC E-sports.
It’s not a physical sport however, the energy in the room during game-play is electric.
“I think it’ll get even more crazy facing other universities online,” said Brockett. “So it’s not like we’ll just be playing 6 versus 6 all of the time. We’ll also be playing against other universities where we don’t know their strategies. We don’t know their coaching.”
Right now the team is focusing on just one game, Overwatch but will expand to League of Legends in December.
Cornell put in $60,000 to get the room transformed into a state of the art gaming lab. It’s decked out with top-of-the-line equipment.
Sheenan says, unlike soccer and football teams they don’t have to pay to maintain a field.
Cornell also opens up the lab to other students and the community when the team is not practicing.
For more information regarding public times or the team, check out their website.