By Lynn Spahr / Staff Writer
Typically, sports are physical activities, from hard-hitting in football, to endurance in cross country, to grabbing, pushing and hacking in basketball.
It’s hard not to be curious about a sport where the participants are sitting in front of computers.
Welcome to Esports
So, what is Esports all about? Hutchinson Community College has a full-fledged, co-ed Esports team now in its second full season.
HutchCC coach Heath Hensley and players Jennifer Mendoza and Eduardo Hernandez will shed some light on what Esports is and why it matters to the people who play.
What is Esports?
Hensley: Esports is gaming at a competition sports level. We participate in NJCAA, just the same as every other sport on campus, and there’s real seasons, different levels of competition, invitational, open series, intramural, so, it’s just like any other sport that would be played on campus.
Mendoza: Esports is like a lot of like, the best way I can describe it is it’s almost like any other sport, but this time you can do video games competitively and it’s really like its own realm, and I really enjoy that.
Hernandez: Esports is where we can play the games we love and enjoy playing in a competitive setting, they have so many different leagues that you can play in. Right now we are in the NJCAAE which is where we play against other other colleges but it goes deeper and if you get good you can play for an all pros team.
How did the team at HutchcCC get started?
Hensley A: It actually started in 2020. It was in process before the pandemic hit, we were hired over the summer, me and, it was Tyler Crawford that was originally hired, he left, moved to Oregon for another job. But, they were still working on this basement area, we didn’t have even an arena the first semester. But yeah, they finally got us the arena, moved in, started doing some scrimaging with other colleges, and then we moved into NJCAA fall of 2021, and won our first championship that year too.
What makes this more than just playing video games?
Hensley: That’s a very common question. You sit down and play games for fun, I think everybody does that at some level, whether it’s on your phone, X-Box, whatever. What they do here is actually competition grade, like they have to train muscle memory, run strategies, different tactics. It’s almost the same as play calling, like in football. So, a lot of these teams, I mean, the skill levels and stuff, especially with like Saint Claire, out of Canada, Gogebic out of Michigan, they’re top tier. I mean, some of these guys are at, like, pro level, if you want to call it that. They have to put in a lot of time, a lot of practice, and that’s just, that’s where it starts to separate from what this is and what just, regular gaming is. Just, a lot of skill, a lot of practice, a lot of dedication, a lot of long nights, heartache, stuff like that along the way too. It’s when you get those wins against tough teams that it all comes together.
Mendoza: It’s, there’s a lot of like, intensiveness to it, if that makes sense. It’s not just, like the whole, like the competitiveness comes out and it’s just, it’s a really hard way to describe it, at least personally for me, because it’s just like, it’s something that not only i really enjoy, it’s something that I can also build off of. So it’s pretty cool.
Hernandez: What makes it more than video games is the competition and all the practices we have to get better and play as a team, plus we are playing either for a title or a prize.
What kind of games are played?
Hensley A: We have quite a few. We play “Call of Duty”, this season it’s “Vanguard”, we’re going to be moving to “Modern Warfare 2” next season, “Rocket League”. “Madden NFL 23” is what we’re playing right now, “Rainbow 6 Siege”, “Halo: Infinite, Super Smash Bros”, “Call of Duty: Warzone”, “Call of Duty: Gunfight”, which is “Cold War”, with the gunfight level on that. “Valorant”, “Mario Kart 8”, and “Overwatch”. And we also just got into the I-Racing League with NJCAA. So, a lot of games.
Mendoza: I am actually in four games. I play “Call of Duty: Vanguard”, I play “Mario Kart”, I also play “Warzone”, and I am the co-captain of the “Overwatch” team, so I play “Overwatch” too.
Why is it important to you?
Mendoza: Just because personally for me, my entire life was revolved around video games. I grew up watching my big brother play games since I was a kid. Played like a lot of “God of War”, “Resident Evil”, definitely “Silent Hill”, so I just like, remember sitting next to him watching him play games, like “Halo” and stuff, so I develop my own liking to it.
Hernandez A: Esports is really important to me because of the friendship that you make in Esports.