By: REYNA IWAMOTO / MANAGING EDITOR
The LIU Brooklyn Esports club and varsity team will be getting a major upgrade in their equipment and practice location with a brand-new gaming arena on campus, set to open sometime in early November.
The arena, located on the ground floor of Conolly Hall, will replace the club’s old arena that was located on the third floor next to the entrance of the Library Learning Center.
This new facility will serve as the practice and competition location for the Esports club and brand-new varsity team.
Julian Vega, junior and vice president of the esports club, said the Esports club has grown significantly from last year, now boasting more than 70 members, and the arena will give them more opportunities as a club and team.
“Before we just had a really small arena right across from the library that could only fit maybe six or seven people at most,” Vega said. “Now we are getting this huge space where everybody can be around and hang out with their friends, play games, and have a great time.”
While the Esports club has added nearly 60 new members since last school year, this is also the first year that the LIU Brooklyn campus will have an Esports varsity team.
The varsity team, which will be part of the LIU Athletic Department, will be led by head coach Matthew Taylor.
Taylor told Seawanhaka that the arena will be a “beautiful opportunity” for LIU, and he hopes it will help in continuing to build a social program with the Esports club and team.
Taylor explained that throughout many college campuses, only a small percentage of students will associate themselves with Esports, while a great majority of them have some sort of interest in playing video games. A Pew Research study from 2018 found that 90% of teens, ages 13-17, play video games of any kind, whether on a game console, computer, or phone.
This divide between students who play video games and students who are part of the Esports program is something Taylor hopes to minimize.
“We are making it accessible to our whole student body — especially when we put a great deal of resources into the room — we want to make sure everyone has something they can get out of it,” Taylor said.
For freshman Cora Dooley, this will be the first time she is able to participate in an Esports club and have a “proper gaming computer.”
“My [high] school [formed an Esports club] my last year of school, but due to COVID-19, I was not able to join,” Dooley said. “I'm really excited to be able to participate in a club like this and share my interests with a bunch of people.”
Jake Robertson, a freshman in the Esports club, told Seawanhaka that he is planning to try out for the varsity Overwatch team.
“I'm excited to meet new people and see play-styles I haven't seen before,” Robertson said. “It’s also exciting to be meeting new people thanks to these experiences.”
Tryouts for the Esports varsity team will be held by Taylor following the arena’s opening in November.
The LIU Post campus already has an established varsity team, so the Brooklyn team will be combined with them for competitions. Once the arena opens, Vega said the space will also be shared with the Post campus team members.
While the Post varsity team has begun competing, Vega said that the Brooklyn team aims to begin competitions starting in the spring semester.
As the Esports members gear up for the opening of the arena, Vega has been reaching out to other schools’ Esports teams and various organizations with hopes to create connections in the community for events and future opportunities.
“I’m excited, I’m excited to see what happens with [the new arena], I'm excited to see what events that we can have [this season],” Vega said.