Overwatch team competes in collegiate cup
With the esports lab up and running, the esports club has taken further strides, forming an “Overwatch” team. The squad will compete in tournaments regionally and beyond.
“Overwatch” is a team-based first-person shooter featuring player characters with unique battle skills and abilities. Created by Blizzard, the original game accumulated 50 million players within three years of its launch in 2016. Overwatch 2, was released on Oct. 4, 2022. As of February 2023, the sequel brings in over 24 million users every 30 days.
According to Esports Club president Domenic DeSantis, the team currently has seven regular participants with more having shown interest. This led them to formalize the team these past few months.
“We just had a really good influx of people who are interested in Overwatch,” DeSantis said.
The Lasers’ first foray into “Overwatch” came last semester, entering a team into the Boston Collegiate Cup, hosted by the local professional team, the Boston Uprising. Despite limited experience and practice time, the team reached the semi-finals in their debut.
“It was very unexpected, and we were very excited. Playing that day, I was very happy and very proud of the people I was playing with. They were really swinging out of their league,” DeSantis said. “I don't think any of us were upset with ending up only in the semi-finals. I think we're all very happy with it.”
The Overwatch team is helmed by Assistant Professor of Communications Kurt Wirth. A fan of the video game, Overwatch was the first first-person shooter game he played, advancing his skills over time. This got Wirth recruited to a semi-professional team and this position as the Lasers’ first head coach.
“I was chatting with Christina Alejandre, and it came up that they wanted competitive teams and they might start with Overwatch. I was like, ‘Hey if you need someone to coach, that sounds super fun,’” Wirth said. “I've done a lot of research because I'm not competitive, I'm not being paid, I'm not professional or anything. I’m just doing my best to help the students.”
Thus far, Wirth is pleased with the players in the squad but would like the numbers to increase. “There seems to be a lot of initial interest, but then in terms of getting people to practice and then committing to a tournament, I think that we really need a couple more people that are like really wanting to play competitively,” he said.
According to Wirth, the team practices every Tuesday at 5 p.m. in the esports lab. Practices under Wirth typically start with an informational topic and discussion such as communication or the importance of the high ground. Then the team plays a match which is followed by watching film, known in the field as video-on-demand reviews. The rest of the practice focuses on player development.
“We make sure we’re working on things that we recognize in gameplay that might not be going as well, addressing those concerns, asking questions, those sorts of things,” first-year Kiefer Harding said.
As the program matures, the next step forward will be finding more competition. “My goal would be that we get on the stage enough and place enough that we sort of build a reputation,” Wirth said.