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OMEN and College Esports Descend Upon Des Moines


OMEN and College Esports Descend Upon Des Moines

Across the globe, esports is exploding in popularity like never before. Whereas competitive gaming used to be primarily online play, today live tournaments played in arenas capable of seating thousands are being streamed by millions. With this unprecedented growth comes not only excitement and a variety of challenges, but also emulation and adaptation. A wide variety of college sports - from basketball to golf - provide their athletes with the facilities and training to take their game to the professional level. With this in mind, colleges are now beginning to see the value in creating similar programs for their electronic athletes and forming organizations such as the NACE (National Association of Collegiate Esports).

One school that has taken the initiative with college esports is Grand View University (GVU) of Des Moines, Iowa. This past weekend OMEN by HP was proud to sponsor and provide registration gift giveaways and tournament door prizes for the Global Esports Classic and Clinic - which was played entirely at GVU campus on our cutting edge desktops and displays. This twelve-team League of Legends tournament featured three pools for seeding and featured a variety of school such as CU Boulder, Indiana Tech and of course Grand View University. It was an extremely hard fought and exciting contest that culminated with AZIO Esports defeating Columbia College to take home the championship.

While this intense competition was a driving force behind attracting teams, athletic directors and representatives from around North America, it was not the only reason they were there. The Clinic part of the weekend focused entirely educating attendees, which also included a representative of the NCAA. The Clinic's opening topic was a study on the evolution of competitive esports by Kurt Melcher, the Executive Director of Esports for Intersport. During his talk, he broke down game publishers, specific games, leagues that are forming, and the companies and organizations that are sponsoring these different leagues and games.

Dedicated session topics also included:

How to start a university (high school) esports program

The benefits of joining an association

The esports athlete - stages of development

Principles of play in competitive esports

Developing a productive practice

Recruiting the esports athlete

For many in attendance, the Clinic served as a learning experience. Keeping an open mind, they considered whether or not esports should have a future at their schools and, if so, how to make it happen. Currently, about 35 of the represented universities are in the decision making process or have already committed to starting a program in the fall of 2018.

As it was put by one attendee, esports doesn't really have a Mike Krzyzewski or any long established names in the college scene. For a lot of people here, this is like learning about a sport you've never played in your life. Imagine trying to learn football for the first time!

This prevailing spirit of anticipation for the undertaking ahead was captured well by Joshua Pann, HP's Product Manager for Education, who said, seeing so many people committed to building a quality program makes me excited for the future of esports. Were going to see an explosion of opportunities for students to pursue their passions in a structured environment while receiving an education. The OMEN brand is proud to empower these students to compete at the highest level with quality dependable gear. That schools like Grand View continue to raise awareness for collegiate esports is incredibly exciting.

Jay Prescott, Vice President of Student Affairs as well as the Esports Director at Grand View University, spoke to this further when stating, HP has been a great sponsor right out of the gate. Their OMEN gaming stations are excellent equipment and priced in a way that is affordable for a beginning varsity program that is shooting to compete at a top-tier level. They also understand how vital education is to this entire process. Without teaching and learning taking place amongst all roles within esports, the quality of the programs will not keep up with the pace of growth. Their willingness to collaborate with Grand View on the first Global Esports Classic and Clinic allowed us to invite university and high school athletic directors from across the country to come to our campus and learn from the pioneers and leaders in the collegiate esports world. We look forward to a long and rewarding collaboration that extends the learning and growth of all those involved in the exploding university competitive esports culture.

What about the students though? Without players, esports doesn't happen, so we sat down with a few of Grand View's top players - Jon Fuki Quach and Jun Jun Chang - to get their feedback on some questions.

HP: How has your experience been with Grand View University on the esports side of things and did you go here specifically because of their growing esports program?

Jon: For the most part my experience with Grand View University has been good on the esports side. Even though we are lacking in some areas, the staff has made a good effort to try and help fix whatever problems we have in whatever way they can. I did come specifically for the esports program and was specifically chosen to lead it, help it expand, and be successful.

Jun: I specifically went to Grand View University because of the upcoming esports program that they wanted to do. However, I also wanted to finish my degree and graduate. The experience of being able to play on the esports team and get an education has been a life changer.

HP: Assuming universities and colleges across the nation now had esports programs covering a variety of games, what would be the most important factors toward choosing where yo
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