FMU welcomes ESports

FMU welcomes a new ESports gaming program sponsored by the Peach Belt Conference (PBC).

The program was approved this summer and is scheduled to begin in October. The ESports gaming program will consist of teams from different PBC universities that compete against one another.

Derrick Young, director of recreational sports, said that if the program gains a lot of interest, FMU will hold a preseason conference game.

The games will be played on Fridays, so they will not interrupt classes. There will be five teams playing this semester and six teams next semester. The top four teams will play against other institutions in the playoffs, and the top two teams will make it to the finals. They will meet at a neutral site to play the championship games. Food, travel and housing costs will be covered.

Young said even though he is not an avid video game player, he is still hopeful about winning the championship.

“I want to win,” Young said. “Whenever something like this comes along, if we can find a good group of people, I know we can win. I have already have had approximately 20 people who have come by, and they’re very interested in participating.”

Seven people are allowed on one team, and everything will be played on a computer. Everyone will have to be present and meet together to play, so anyone who isn’t present won’t be accused of cheating by playing elsewhere.

The FMU team will play “League of Legends.”

The PBC is a premier sports league in the NCAA Division I. It has 12 institutions including colleges and universities from Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina. Ken Gerlinger, PBC representative, said this year is the first time that they are introducing the ESports Gaming Program as a sports league. Though this is a video gaming sport, the program will be treated just as any other NCAA championship sport.

“The mission is to be able to reach out to different students so that we can create a community for them to enjoy,” Gerlinger said. “The segment is primarily for students who do not know a lot about PBC, especially those who are dedicated gamers.”

Senior Griffin Brandt said he is excited about the program coming to campus.

“I think that it opens doors for some students to get involved with the school who normally wouldn’t,” Brandt said. “It’s also a great avenue to bring in people who wouldn’t normally be interested in sports.”

Brandt also said that he is interested in joining the program himself and that it would be a great experience to have before graduating.

“You get to meet people you normally wouldn’t,” Brandt said. “People can come together no matter where they are or what their schedule is. You can find time in the week to play with friends that you couldn’t normally meet. I want everyone to be able to find a group to fit in. I want this to be something not just for competition but for more people to get involved.”

Senior political science major Aiyanna Johnson said she’s not a gamer, but she wouldn’t mind a little competition.

“I feel that this program is a great addition to campus,” Johnson said. “I feel like a lot of students who are gamers feel as if there aren’t any organizations for them where they feel welcomed. I also feel like a lot of these students don’t know who else might have the same interest, because they are afraid to speak up.”

Johnson said that she feels that the ESport program is a great way to build a community for different students on campus.

“I can relate because I’m in a sorority,” Johnson said. “It’s the same thing. You get to meet people from all over the place. You feel that you have friendships with them even if you don’t get to meet them face to face. It really is like a community, and I’m sure other students on campus can relate.”

According to Johnson, if the program turns out to be a success, the PBC will look into incorporating other games in the league.

So far, there are no official ESports teams. The institutions that will be participating are currently putting teams together.