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OCU Introduces ESports Team

The new Oklahoma City University eSports Club will host tryouts on Saturday for all positions on their competition teams. The tryouts will begin at 10 a.m. in the Norick Art Center at N.W. 26th Street and Blackwelder Avenue.

Professional esports talent scouts will be evaluating each player for inclusion into the final team rosters for games including “Overwatch,” “Super Smash Bros.” and “Rocket League.” The team plans to offer scholarships in the spring for recruited student-athletes.

“We are looking at an esports phenomenon happening at all levels of education and professional development,” said Jeff Price, OCU eSports director, noting that the tryouts are open to all OCU students. “This has the momentum to reach audiences of all races, abilities, gender and economic strata.”

OCU will host its first esports tournament Oct. 5 during the Oklahoma Regatta Festival at the Devon Boathouse, home of OCU Rowing. The OCU eSports River Rumble, presented by Chad and Jessica Ford, will feature a high school invitational “Rocket League” tournament and a “Super Smash Bros.” tournament, which is open to the public.

OCU eSports, under the umbrella of the Petree College of Arts & Sciences, was admitted into the National Association of Colligate Esports (NACE) during the summer. OCU eSports has already partnered with many regional university programs and local high school programs in Oklahoma.

Private donations have been collected for a new OCU eSports Club facility, and the university has developed plans for a dedicated esports arena. The club facility will house more than 20 gaming systems, state-of-the-art web streaming and audio-visual production equipment, and retro gaming systems.

Amy Cataldi, dean of OCU’s college of arts and sciences, said that not only will the team members be talented in gameplay, they will be educated at a nationally ranked, liberal arts university. Cataldi said like other athletes, OCU eSports athletes will have a coach and will practice in settings other than just sitting in front of a computer monitor. They’ll also be able to utilize the expertise of the university’s Psychology and Exercise and Sport Science departments for their mental and physical health needs.

“They're going to be physically fit, they're going to be mentally fit and they're going to be educated across the campus,” Cataldi said.

Price says students and the business world share a symbiotic relationship by participating in such activities.

“Businesses that connect with these demographics position themselves as forward thinking, progressive and dynamic. Simultaneous industries are stimulated with esports publishers and content producers, players and team training, esports management, tournament and league organizers, brand developers, social media managers and advertisers. We are looking at the next revolution of digital entertainment for this generation.” For more information about eSports at Oklahoma City University, visit okcu.edu/esports.