Over the last few years, competitive gaming has grown massively. For example, the League of Legends 2015 World Championship was hosted in multiple cities in Europe, and the winners, SK Telecom T1, were awarded a prize of a million dollars. It was estimated that over 30 million people were streaming the final. Clearly e-sports have become a massive entertainment industry in the digital age. So, to learn more about the ever-expanding new sporting realm, I sat down with Panku Sharma and Cam Stephens, president and vice president respectively of eSports Valley (ESV), UFV’s competitive gaming club.
ESV, coming up on their third year, was formed in the summer of 2013 by Sharma, Stephens, and former president Eric Bates in response to the burgeoning shift in pop culture.
“Nerd culture was getting progressively way more normal,” Sharma says. Stephens also notes that “League [of Legends] had just grown massively in popularity” around the time of the club’s inception, and these factors led to them deciding to organize a UFV club based around gaming.
“The specific games themselves don’t matter to the club,” says Sharma. While the club was founded with League of Legends as a centrepiece, they have branched out into games such as DOTA 2 and Super Smash Bros. These branches have grown in prominence since the club has grown, with the club hosting a monthly Smash Bros. tournament that usually attracts 100 attendees on average.
However, it’s almost a stereotype that heavy gamers are distracted from school and work — a stereotype that ESV has very much tried to combat. As a club, they instituted a policy that requires any club executive or League of Legends team player to maintain a GPA of at least 2.0, firmly encouraging their members to maintain a balance between their lives as students and as competitive gamers.
“Not all tournaments have a GPA requirement, but we, as a team, have decided if you’re below a 2.0, you obviously can’t balance your time and the game,” Sharma explains, adding that this is meant to help ESV “better the image” of competitive gaming.
“We want to show that these people can spend a lot of time on these games and get good at these games, but they can also still focus on their school and do well in school at the same time,” says Stephens.
The ultimate goal of ESV as a club would appear to be providing more opportunities for students to casually game. It provides a welcoming place to hang out with friends and goof around on Rock Band, while also continuing to hone ESV’s competitive nature — and increasing their ability to compete with other teams from other universities in tournaments. They also hope to partner with other associations.
“We’re looking to branch out more next semester, and doing a lot more casual events with other clubs,” says Sharma.
As for the competitive aspect of ESV, he has high hopes: “In five years, we trounce UBC, we dominate BC — I just want to see UBC fall over. Quote me on that.”