Esports

Catawba Esports Team Defeats UNCC Esports 2 to 1 in Best of Three Game Matchup

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In its first exhibition, members of the new Catawba’s Esports team went head-to-head against UNCC Esports players in a League of Legends Show match Sunday, February 3rd, and won 2 to 1 in a best of three-game matchup. The match, played live at UNCC, was streamed on Twitch.tv and showcased five of Catawba’s Esports players whose specialty is League of Legends play.

“I was surprised in the third game.  In the time that I’ve worked with this team, the third game was the cleanest game – almost a perfect game – that I’ve seen them play,” said Catawba Esports Program Coordinator Gidd Sasser.

“We actually spent the last two to three weeks practicing three days a week for several hours against other teams at other schools.  We practiced based on some scouting of the UNCC team that I had done,” Sasser continued.  “It was a lot of paperwork and a lot of statistical analysis.

“I think the guys did a pretty good job. On a mental level, they showed that it’s easy to be happy and excited to win a game, but when UNCC fired back and took the second game away from us, they showed that they could reset mentally, and come back to win the third game. In that third game, we only had one death the entire game.”

Catawba Esports players playing in the League of Legends (LOL) Show Match at UNCC included Braden Ricks of Shawnee, Okla., a LOL starting player for ADC (attack, damage, carry or marksman); Alexander Filutze of Willards, Md., a LOL starter playing mid-lane; Thomas Marks-Noble of Fresno, Calf., a LOL starter playing jungle; Justin Gray of Lincoln, Maine, a LOL starting top laner; and Tyler Oelling of Roca, Neb., a LOL support role player. Catawba’s Fritzgerald Hilario of Alameda, Calif., a mid-lane player in LOL, was the substitute at the show match.

Although Sasser says he’ll be investigating show matches and exhibition play for other members of the Catawba team who specialize in different games, such as Overwatch and Rocket League, his main priority this semester will be on academics.

“I want the entire team to be able to go into next fall semester ready to succeed, not just “on the field,” but in the classroom as well,” Sasser explained, noting that all but one member of the Catawba Esports program are transfer students who selected the college based largely on the fact that it offers an esports program.

In addition to the six aforementioned Catawba Esports players, other members in the program include League of Legend player Sarah Engle of Concord, N.C., who also serves as team manager; Overwatch players Jeremias Jiron of Orlando, Fla., Christian Horrigan of Bedford, Texas, Logan Rogers of Crandall, Texas, and Megan Horton of Lexington, N.C., who was the first varsity player recruited from Catawba’s campus; and Rocket League players Emanuel Hodge of Denton, Texas, and Cole Streit of Wichita, Kan.

Sasser joined Catawba on October 1, and was responsible for finalizing plans and equipment for the College’s esports gaming lab. An internal open house of that facility was held January 31 for members of the campus community.  Additionally, Sasser was responsible for recruiting members of Catawba’s Esports program to the college.  All but two of Catawba’s 12 varsity players, Sarah Engle and Megan Horton, had played for Sasser when he served as director and head coach of Kansas Wesleyan University’s National Association of Collegiate eSports varsity program.

Sasser also led the University of North Carolina Charlotte’s student-run esports program between August of 2015 and March of 2018, serving as its manager, coach, analyst, and adviser.  That team of approximately 50 players were Collegiate Southern Champions in 2017, with as 10-0 season in Overwatch, and a 5-0 playoffs record with Rocket League.

Although Sasser no longer leads UNCC esports, he serves as an independent adviser for that organization as well as for other collegiate teams at North Carolina State University and Colorado State University.  He serves as a guest coach and adviser to university teams participating in national playoffs. He has worked as an independent adviser for 5 Kings eSports, Koyobi LLC, HotShots Sports Bar, and Tespa. He also has worked with global Contenders/Trials team, SkyFoxes, as the assistant GM and community manager, and currently works with Bermuda, as the assistant GM.

Sasser shared that a schedule of matches for fall 2019 will not be set until early in the ’19-’20 academic year.

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Photos by Cole Streit

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