Collegiate esports season at Tennessee is in full swing.
As of now, UTK Esports has teams competing in 4 games — Overwatch, Rocket League, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 and Rainbow Six Siege — with more on the way over the next two months, and so far, each team has been rather successful.
The UTK Esports’ Overwatch team is currently competing in the Tespa Overwatch Collegiate Championship. This tournament has both a national and regional league where UTK’s team has overall records of 3-3 and 2-2, respectively.
Both leagues are in week four of the five-week pre-bracket phase, but unlike the regional league, only the top 64 teams — based on overall scores and the amount of match scores — will be placed in the national league bracket to determine the champion.
Alex McAllister, who is the captain of UT’s Overwatch team named Starscream, is optimistic about the team’s results so far.
“I think it's been somewhat decent. We've had slightly above-average results in both tourneys up to this point and have been making improvements in team coordination and tactics each week,” McAllister said. “I think Daniel Bates (dannyb) has brought a lot to the team in terms of mechanical skill and knowledge about the game on a macro level. Another player that I think has been great for us is Wilson Wang (Chaos). (Wang) is a very consistent player that can play a variety of roles in the game. His flexibility enables us to run hero compositions that we otherwise would not be able to run.”
Rocket League is a bit of a special case for UTK Esports among this list of competing games because there are two teams competing in some of the same tournaments. The explanation is fairly simple: there just happened to be enough competitive interest for Rocket League at UT to create two teams, which are Orange and White, with the best players on Orange.
Orange is currently competing in the College Carball Association with an overall record of 4-2, and White is currently competing in the Nashville Rocket League Series with an overall record of 2-0.
Both teams participated in the American Video Game Leauge Rocket League tournament, but they were both taken out by Ohio State’s team, Ohio State Zoo, in the losers bracket. Orange and White both ended the tournament with the same overall record of 5-2.
The captain of Orange, Drake Paul (Cheebo), details the team’s journey to their current standings.
“After we lost our star player Ian Goforth (Cedric) last year due to school transfer, we had to restructure our team again. In Rocket League, that's difficult; you're losing a third of your team when that happens. When we decided on this roster, we felt that it would only take time for us to hit our stride,” Paul said. “This caused us to underperform in the fall semester, but through the winter break and spring semester we've finally started to hit that stride by starting to place much higher in tournaments. Finishing top 12 and top six in the nation for our last two tournaments, the improvements we're seeing in our communication and chemistry are substantial.”
Paul also mentioned that he was quite happy with the team’s current level of play.
“The great thing about our team right now is that any of us can step up in big games. Lately, that's been Andrew Coleman (Killerman); (Coleman) has scored some crucial goals in overtime and has come up big in games recently,” Paul said.
Michael Slandzicki, the captain of White and student president of UTK Esports, also offered some input on the progress of his team.
“Our B team is pretty solid. In the AVGL tournament we were knocked out by the same team as our A team. It's definitely been a big improvement in the past year,” Slandzicki said. “I don't think there's really one player that stands out. We all have strengths and weaknesses, but we are able to adapt to each other’s play-style and remain a strong team.”
The Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 team is currently competing in the Collegiate CoD League tournament and has an overall record of 5-1.
Nicholas Wilson, the captain of UT’s Stainless_US, expressed much confidence in his team and pointed to a few key players.
“I think we’ve shown that we shouldn’t be taken lightly and other than our one loss, we’ve shown we can hang with top 10 teams,” Wilson said. “(Also,) I would say that Devan DeMatteo (Dev) and Trent Walker (Scarz) have played very well, and I’ve been performing below my standard but still pretty well.”
The final active team is the Rainbow Six: Siege team, which has just started its first tournament last Thursday and secured its first win.
Parker Dillard (Krev), captain of UT’s team, had a lot to say with regards to their performance in their first match.
“I think it will be a good season,” Dillard said. “We lost our mojo on the first map due to two re-hosts, but we pulled out the map win in the end. We can work on listening to our team's callouts and continuing to be a part of the game when you die.”