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Buckeye eSports takes the field

Athletics play an important role at Ohio State. From basketball games in the Schottenstein Center to Saturdays spent in the ’Shoe, Buckeyes are eager to cheer for the Scarlet and Gray. However, there is one sports team representing Ohio State that many fans may not know about.

The eSports Initiative (ESI) at Ohio State is the resident student organization representing the Buckeyes in all things eSports. Also known as electronic sports, eSports is a form of competition that utilizes an electronic system, usually video games.

Nationally, eSports has grown significantly since its start only a few years ago. After the first collegiate eSports team was established at Robert Morris University in 2014, at least 23 other schools across the nation have followed in creating an official eSports team, said Mark Candella, director of strategic partnerships at Twitch.

“A huge part of the population [at Ohio State] is really into this. We may have 200 to 300 people on-site, but then add the online viewers who are watching the broadcast and you have thousands of people,” said ESI Faculty Advisor Deborah Grzybowski, EED faculty member and clinical associate professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering.

Ohio State's eSports Executive teamESI at Ohio State hosts large scale eSports events on campus for charity. During these events, participants play games such as Super Smash Bros and League of Legends. About $10,000 has been raised by ESI in the past four years, going towards Nationwide Children’s Hospital and Child’s Play, an organization that gives children in hospitals toys and video games, explained to ESI President Dylan Fraley, a fourth-year geographical science major.

ESI also fields competitive teams to attend tournaments around the nation to compete with other collegiate teams. “We are considered the best college in North America for our teams,” said Fraley.

Esports attracts intellectual students with good hand-eye coordination, both qualities which are needed to play the challenging games. Many students involved in ESI are engineering and computer science majors, according to Grzybowski. Aside from having fun and socializing with other students who share interests, students involved in ESI learn how to put on events and organize large-scale competitions.

Recently, Ohio State won a Yahoo eSports poll in which people voted for which rival schools will have their match broadcasted live. Buckeye fans will be able to watch ESI take on the University of Michigan eSports team at a viewing event hosted by Yahoo eSports. 


Original story by Emily Lehmkuhl, College of Engineering student communications assistant