9/10/20 Esports

With most traditional sports teams unable to practice or play, esports give students another outlet for camaraderie.

The “Madden NFL” 21 and “League of Legends” intramural competitions started on campus this week, kicking off a three-month season that will also include “NHL 21,” “Super Smash Bros.” and “Mario Kart Tour.” Each game’s season lasts about three weeks, with the finals streamed on the Purdue Esports YouTube channel.

The Madden and League tournaments began on Sunday and will continue through Oct. 10. The other tournaments will run between Oct. 11 and Nov. 14.

The events themselves bring out a variety of competitors from all skill levels. Some play strictly recreationally, some are seasoned pros and a few, like League player Ethan Tan, a senior in the College of Engineering, fall somewhere in the middle.

“Hopefully we can go into the finals this time, but there’s some really good people who play,” Tan said.

Tan, whose team made the quarterfinals and semifinals in the two League tournaments during the spring semester, was a commentator for last year’s finals. According to Tan, the stream generated more than 100 viewers on YouTube and Twitch.

“It’s a really cool experience,” Tan said. “You get to meet a lot of people who play ‘League of Legends.’”

Sportsmanship is a key component of the events as well, a welcome change to what is, according to Tan, the game’s toxic online culture.

“It’s a very friendly environment as opposed to usual (when) you play online,” Tan said.

One hundred and eleven students, between League and Madden, are participating in the events, a rate on par with the 420 people who participated during the entirety of the spring semester.

According to Rachael Rayford, the interim senior assistant director of sports programs at RecWell, setting up the leagues this semester has been more streamlined compared to spring semester, when the abrupt transition to online classes forced everyone to adjust on-the-fly.

“It absolutely was chaotic,” Rayford said. “We had two weeks to set up five different esports leagues.”

The ability to participate in intramurals remotely at a time when social distancing is required has been paramount to the success of the events so far.

“As long as you have a console,” Rayford said, “you really don’t have to go anywhere.”

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