Neumann University Joins the Video Gaming Craze with New eSports Team

The Neumann University eSports team includes (clockwise from top left) Darryl Richardson of Philadelphia; Nicholas Kelly of Mullica Hill, N.J.; Daekwon Sequira of New Castle, Del.; Duncan McNeil of Cheshire, Conn.; Gabrielle Wilson of Sharon Hill; and Deidre Turner of Pittsgrove, N.J.

“We compete in teams of two and the winner is based on whoever receives the highest number of (on-screen) kills,” said Deidre Turner, who is one of the six members of Neumann University’s new eSports team.

In the fall of 2018, Neumann began its inaugural season in ECAC eSports, a league of online video gaming that began in 2016. It currently includes 23 schools and 117 teams with competition in a variety of games such as Fortnite, League of Legends, FIFA, Overwatch, Hearthstone, and Super Smash Bros.

Neumann’s eSports team participates mainly in the Fortnite competitions. Released in 2017, Fortnite is an increasingly popular video game that requires both strategy and skill.

The game is set after a storm causes 98 percent of the population to disappear, and the survivors are attacked by zombie-like creatures. The players take the role of commanders whose troops collect resources, save survivors, and defend equipment to push back the storm. There are three different versions of the game:

  • Fortnite: Save the World
  • Fortnite: Battle Royale
  • Fortnite: Creative

eSports allows players to apply their skillset in a competitive environment that is more than just a popular pastime. Leading up to these competitions, members of the Neumann eSports team practice both individually and as a team. Despite many practices and matches being held solely online, there are still social connections being made within the club and outside of it.

“The biggest thing is that you get to meet so many cool people through eSport matches,” said Duncan McNeil, who practices with members from opposing teams. “It’s all about the connections that are made.”

Occasionally, the ECAC hosts in-person tournaments. These matches can be attended physically or streamed online.

In some ways, ECAC eSports is very comparable to other collegiate sports.

“Similar to most sports, there is a playoff structure within the ECAC,” said David Deal, director of campus recreation. “I am not currently aware of a national competition that would expand outside of that, but new leagues are forming every day, so I would not be surprised if that is on the horizon.”

eSports is certainly gaining popularity. Comcast Spectator recently announced that it will be constructing an eSports gaming arena in the very near future. The 3,500-seat arena will house a large audience that can watch players compete in their video games.

According to a February 2019 article in Inside Higher Ed, some universities are incorporating eSports into their academic programs and others are elevating clubs to full team status. Several colleges have even begun offering eSports scholarships. The National Association of Collegiate Esports, which began in 2016 with six members, has grown to include 128 colleges.

This popularity is an indication that the Neumann University eSports club may grow.

“Similar to most sports teams at Neumann University, the eSports club is always open for new members,” said Deal.

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