Sitting outside of Miami University’s King Library after dark on a Friday night, one can see all types of people headed Uptown for the night. However, amid the sea of people making the trek up slant walk, another group emerges. Instead of heading toward Uptown, this group makes a beeline for the library, straight to the back.
The Esports lounge is located on the first floor of the library and can be seen from afar by the bright red wall surrounding it.
Inside, the room is dark, mainly lit by the screens lining the perimeter of the room. State-of-the-art monitors display different games, and the only noise comes from the click of keyboards and the occasional cry of victory.
“We have three teams that are all under the varsity banner,” said junior and Hearthstone team member Bradley Frysinger. “One team plays ‘Overwatch,’ another team plays ‘League of Legends’ and I am on the ‘Hearthstone’ team, which is a card game.”
The program has been in existence for just two years and began with tryouts for a varsity team. Hearthstone team analyst and graduate student Mitch Mazzei and his friend decided to try out and were some of the original members of the first Hearthstone team.
“It was a huge part of the libraries,” Mazzei said. “IT services at Miami put in a lot of work and a lot of money to help get us started.”
Each team has about six members, and there are even more alternate team players.
The lounge is one of the busiest rooms in the library, but only when the rest of the building is asleep. The teams practice three days a week, never starting before 8 p.m., and matches start even later — the leagues the teams play in are based in California, so they have to coordinate with their time zone.
“When we schedule our practices, we try to keep them at a good time for everyone,” Frysinger said. “Normally our practices are later, but we moved them up a bit on Friday nights, so people can go home on the weekends.”
None of the team seems to mind the late practice hours.
“It’s a varsity sport, and that’s the way that we treat it,” said Mazzei. “That’s sort of the level or rigor that we are trying to bring to it. We are in here practicing as much as we can, in addition to our scheduled practice times, because we want to be the best at what we do.”
Most team members have been playing these games for the majority of their lives.
“Most players are veteran players who have been playing for years with the exception of ‘Overwatch,’ which is a relatively new game,” said Frysinger, who has been playing “Hearthstone” since his freshman year. “The guys who have been playing ‘League’ have been playing for years and years.”
The veteran players have been working hard to find a place of their own, to be able to work on their game with the respect that they deserve.
“That is sort of one of the big points that we want to make is that we are serious,” said Mazzei. “On campus, we are getting results and putting work in, and we want to be visual. We are in the library with some awesome set-ups, and we are just doing our thing.”