As the clock neared 6 p.m., there was a crowd forming outside of Laws Hall, room 302. A few laughed and talked with old friends, while others stood nervously scanning the bunch. A passerby would have thought there was a late class, but each person outside that room had one goal: to be a member of Miami’s varsity E-sports team.
Last year, Miami fielded the first Division One varsity E-sports program in the country. With its arena in King Library, the team found great success across the four games played: Overwatch, League of Legends, Hearthstone, and Counter Strike: Global Offensive. Almost all the teams made deep playoff runs in their debut seasons, but are still looking to secure first place.
This year, a few changes have been made to the program — most notably, the removal of Counter Strike: Global Offensive from the list of varsity sponsored E-sports. Although there are only three games, the turnout for the informational meeting on September 5 was higher than expected as players gear up for a week of tryouts.
The game with the most popular turnout is one of the latest games added to the world of E-sports. Blizzard Entertainment’s Overwatch was released in early 2016, and the RedHawks’ competed in the Tespa Collegiate League last year.
Overwatch is a 6-versus-6 first-person-shooter where each team selects from 25 unique heroes. Each hero has a special set of skills and weapons that players use to complete objectives. Although it is a relatively new game, the extreme popularity stems from its diverse gameplay experience.
One of the oldest and highest viewed E-sports is Riot Games’ League of Legends, or League for short. Released in 2009, the 5-versus-5 game is labeled as a “multiplayer online battle arena.” The map is made up of three lanes, which players push down to destroy the enemies’ base called the “nexus.” Both teams select from 138 champions with their own special powers and abilities. League continues to dominate the E-sports scene, and Miami’s team has automatically qualified to compete in the ULoL spring tournament this year.
The final game, Hearthstone, was released by Blizzard Entertainment in 2014. Unlike the previous two games, Hearthstone is a strategic card game where three players on each team control one deck of 30 different cards. Decks are selected from more than 130 cards that range from magic spells to powerful minions. The goal of Hearthstone is to out-play the opponent and reduce their health points to zero. The RedHawks’ will compete in the Tespa Collegiate Series in late September.
As the latest edition to Miami’s varsity program, potential players are excited to continue the success of the E-sports program last year. The final rosters for each team will be announced on Wednesday.