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Cobber esports team enters playoffs

MOORHEAD — The esports team is a newly emerging group on campus, with a division win already in the bag from their first season competing. The team formed in the fall of 2022 and started actively competing in the spring of 2023.  

Last spring, the Cobber esports team won in their division in the game Overwatch 2. 

Competition and practice occurs in the esports lab in the basement of Park Region Hall. Inside are eighteen high-powered computers that allow members to play with few performance issues. 

 “I can run Rocket League at like 500 frames. I try to cap it at 240 because that’s just what I’m used to on my own PC,” captain of the Rocket League team, Braydon Smith said.  

The club is divided into different teams based on what video games players specialize in. Currently, the games they play consist of  Rocket league, Valorant, Overwatch 2, League of Legends and Super Smash Bros. They plan on implementing a Rainbow Six Siege team in the future.  

Some players on the team opt to play more than one game, but generally only compete in one.  

“I only play Overwatch but I know some people play more than one,” first year student, Noah Nielsen said. 

Officially, the team practices on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, but members are encouraged to practice on their own, using the lab when it is available. 

Competitions in esports occur mostly online, with in-person competitions reserved for finals and higher-stake conditions such as a cash prize. 

“I’m driving down to Rapid City tomorrow to do a tournament, an in person tournament, and that’s a cash prize. It’s a weekend long thing,” Smith said. 

Competition dates and times are flexible, allowing players to compete with opponents when they choose. Different games and leagues have varying rules and frameworks for scheduling matches. 

“Right now we’re in the playoffs. You just need to win two and if you lose two before you win two then you’re out. So a double elimination. And you can play those games anytime between now and the 26,” Smith said. 

The Cobber esports team competes through multiple different local leagues in addition to a national league. The Rocket League team competes in the Dakota Collegiate Rocket League (DCRL) as well as the Midwest Car Soccer (MCS) league.  

National Association for Collegiate Esports (NACE) is the national collegiate league in which the team competes. The NACE website claims that they include over 40 member schools and over 5,000 student participants currently. 

Cobber esports competes against many schools across the midwest. 

“We’ve played Jamestown and NDSU, we played St. Thomas. We’re going to play DSU (Dakota State University) this week. Basically any college in the Midwest,” Smith said. 

Smith, who used to compete on the football team, has found a new way to compete after leaving the team.   

“I used to play football here, I played until fall of my junior year. And I decided that wasn’t really my thing anymore. And at the same time the esports league was starting for the first time and I have been playing Rocket League since like, 2016. So I was like, I’ll give that a shot,” Smith said. 

Nielsen, on the Overwatch team, talked briefly about his motivations for joining as well. 

 “It’s just fun playing video games,” said Nielsen. 

So far, the Overwatch team, which includes about nine players, is performing well with a record of five wins and one loss. The loss was due to an automatic forfeit during fall break when the team could not access the lab. 

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