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UAlbany Has Joined the Game: New eSports Arena on Campus

By Drew SanEmeterio

Published November 5, 2019


(Drew SanEmeterio / ASP)

The tap-tap-tapping of mechanical keystrokes, the low hum of computer towers, and the static of fierce concentration welcome you to the new eSports arena in Draper Hall. There, you will find UAlbany students competing in games such as FIFA, Madden 20, and Fortnite.


Professor Michael Leczinsky, UAlbany’s Director of eSports and Head Coach, says it’s more than just videogames happening in this room.


“When I see the teamwork, communication, collaboration and leadership of our students when they are playing, it’s clear that the work we are doing together is much more significant than sitting in front of a monitor playing a video game,” Leczinsky says. “It’s an opportunity to be a part of something much bigger than gaming.”


STEEP COMPETITION


UAlbany’s eSports teams will face off against 56 other colleges located throughout 18 states, as part of the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC).


Players are equipped with top of the line Alienware computers, lightning fast monitors, and what may just be the most comfortable chairs on Earth.


The eSports industry may seem like a “hobby” at first, but for the University at Albany, eSports is a field of opportunity, and growth.


The Head Coach, Professor Leczinsky, says he will continue to create opportunities for students in eSports, because he believes the field will keep growing.


“Our students have the opportunity to be active participants in the impact eSports is making on a global scale.”


THE TEAM TO BE BEAT


UAlbany’s eSports team is already one of the largest teams in the Eastern College Athletic Conference.


With over 200 students interested in competing this semester, UAlbany eSports was able to accept more than 75 students, who compete among 8 different games each week.


With teams undefeated in 2 different games, UAlbany is a formidable force in the ECAC.


Professor Michael Leczinsky, UAlbany’s Director of eSports and Head Coach, watches a student play a game. (Drew SanEmeterio / ASP)

ALL ARE WELCOME: DIVERSITY ENCOURAGED


Winning the conference trophy is a goal for Professor Leczinsky, but he is also focused on creating an environment that is welcoming to everyone.


“This is about the students,” said Leczinsky. “A commitment to diversity is an important component of UAlbany eSports. All of our teams are co-ed and open to all majors and class years.”


Professor Leczinsky also wishes to eventually be able to have a University at Albany eSports team compete in the ECAC’s all-women Overwatch league.


PUTTING IN THE WORK


For senior Michael Tackie, a player on their Madden ’20 team and a gamer of 13 years, competitive gaming is similar to any other sport competition.


He watches and re-watches in-game replays in order to understand what might have went wrong on a defensive hold, or how he can better analyze the movements of the opposing team’s offense. Michael also switches what teams he may play, hunting to find the best team to use against certain opponents.


“Gaming is more mental, definitely; you have to put in the work,” says Tackie.


The UAlbany eSports team plays in Draper Hall on the downtown campus. (Drew SanEmeterio / ASP)

YOU CAN TAKE THE CLASS


Professor Leczinsky will be teaching a class on eSports, and how it has grown in the past years. “INF196 – Informatics Special Topics – eSports” will be available for students as an elective in the spring of 2020.


In the meantime, if you are interested in joining eSports, you can contact UAlbany eSports Director / Head Coach Professor Michael Leczinsky at mleczinsky@albany.edu.