Bryan Amaro, Eric Diaz, Kyle Fujii and Jason Sovan have always had a passion for gaming. Taking to the center stage at Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles in front of a large crowd June 13 to play Vainglory showed that their love for gaming could become a professional endeavor.
“eSports is growing so large now because people are very passionate playing these games. Of course these games are really meant to be played casually but now that there’s people who are wanting to play competitively, now they are getting support from others to compete against each other and win prize pools and this way they can continue their passion and keep on playing,” Amaro said.
The CSUF Gaming and eSports club faced off against the University of Utah team in a final match of the multiplayer online battle arena game in the Collegiate Starleague Tournament. When they won their first tournament, the team was awarded a $10,000 scholarship split between the four of them after competing against 16 colleges from across the nation.
The E3 eSports Zone, which hosted the event, was the first partnership between E3 (the biggest video game industry event) and ESL, the world’s largest eSports organization.
“(We signed up) to have the experience of being in a tournament,” Amaro said. “We were winning almost every match and made it off to the round one qualifiers, to the playoffs and then to the semifinals and finals.”
Vainglory has two teams of players fighting on a map with their own objectives with a combined goal of pushing through lanes to arrive at the enemy’s base and destroy the “Vain Crystal.” The amount of kills or final score doesn’t factor in, as long as one team destroys the crystal first, they win.
After competing in rounds and rounds of matches, CSUF’s eSports team found themselves in the tournament finals. When they arrived to the giant stage in the heart of E3, the team had little time to give into their nerves. Most of the matches were 15 to 18 minutes long, but the CSUF team often finished off the other teams in much less time. Throughout the competition, they kept gaining confidence as they continued to win each match, with an exception of one loss from UC Merced during the preliminary rounds.
“We just blocked out everybody and just focused into the game. We would look up and there was just so many people out there,” Diaz said.
Diaz enjoyed the unique environment of getting to meet the players from each school they played against in the same room. When playing the game, he imagines faces for the characters he is playing against but after meeting them in real life, he can now put their names and faces together to know who they really are.
The Gaming and eSports club plans to build up their team this semester and is currently looking for its next tournament opportunity. The club focuses on gaming as a community and is breaking into the collegiate sports industry with this win. Before the club’s triumph at E3, they earned second place last fall in the “Hearthstone” collegiate series. The club will be at DiscoverFest on campus looking for new recruits on Aug. 30 and 31.
The eSports fanbase of Americans ages 13 and older has grown from 8 percent to 14 percent within a year, according to a report by Nielsen. eSports have also become a $1.4 billion industry as of 2017, combining revenues, brand investments and global enthusiasts, according to research by NewZoo.
“If (eSports) gets more support and grows a lot bigger, it will bring up a lot more challenges and make it more interesting for everyone else and especially for people who don’t have that physical strength for normal sports but are really good at games,” Sovan said.