A closer look at Allegheny’s esports team

Participation in physical sports is limited right now, but the virtual world of esports — online gaming competitions — remains open for all users to play. Colleges across the United States are beginning to put together esports teams and clubs. Allegheny’s esports club is now in its fourth year.

Despite being a relatively new team, Allegheny established themselves as a premier esports team. Over the summer, the Allegheny’s esports team competed in the Tespa 2020 Overwatch tournament. The tournament consisted of over 500 colleges competing against one another; Allegheny reached the round of 64.   

Allegheny’s esports team expressed they surpassed even their own expectations in the tournament. Tito Mazzucchi,   ’22, a member of Allegheny’s esports team, commented on the success of his team last summer, especially since they completed their registration five days before the deadline.

“(Reaching round 64) was a big accomplishment for not having any coaching or outside help besides the student-run team,” Mazzucchi said. “People were new to the game and still learned really quickly so that we could do our best and represent Allegheny.”

Esports is quickly growing worldwide. According to the Tespa website, over 40,000 students have competed in their tournaments, and they have awarded over $3.3 million in scholarships. Because of the skillset and training required to compete in these tournaments, Mazzucchi is hoping that esports could one day be considered a varsity sport.

“We really want to put in varsity-like effort and push ourselves to the best of our abilities,” Mazzucchi said. “The ultimate goal would be incorporating esports into the Allegheny community as more than just a club, but a serious varsity commitment.”

Mazzucchi used to play varsity soccer back in high school. Not only does he consider esports to be a “varsity commitment,” but also acknowledges that while esports and physical sports are different, they have a similar kind of atmosphere.

“Although I love soccer as a sport, the best thing that I got out of playing four years (in high school) was growth as an individual,” Mazzuchchi said. “Same thing (with esports). I have seen that (esports) can help people grow a lot.”

The size of the club has grown larger each year, and more equipment will be added for the esports team. The club continues to grow because of Provost Ron Cole and Jared Luteran, director of recreations andfacilities, who have helped founder Jacob Walters, ‘21, to expand and improve the team. The administration wanted an esports team even before they were created. Walters mentioned that even before he started the esports team, Allegheny was waiting for a student to lead the club.

“I emailed (Provost) Ron Cole and he answered back and said that they were waiting for effort from the students to show some interest,” Walters said. “From that point on, we have a room now, we have equipment and we are going through (Allegheny Student Government) to become a club sports team.”

Currently, the esports team plays “Overwatch” as a group. “Overwatch” has led to serious professional competitions across the country. Cities such as New York, Washington D.C. and Los Angeles all have “Overwatch” teams. Walters was inspired by the professional presence of “Overwatch” in the United States to create a team at Allegheny. He also enjoys multiple aspects of “Overwatch” as well.

“I like “Overwatch” in particular because the whole point of it is each character comes from a completely different background from another one,” Walters said. “It is so interesting to learn about.”

“Overwatch” is the only esport game that Allegheny plays as of now. However, the team hopes to add more games in the near future. Although each Allegheny esport team player enjoys “Overwatch,” many of them play other esports games as well. Gabe Schwartz, ’23, recommended other esport games, especially for people who have never played esports before.

“It depends on what you like,” Schwartz said. “ ‘Call of Duty’ is an easy game to get into, but hard to master. ‘Overwatch’ is one (of the games) that is casual at first, but can be taken seriously. If you are into card games try ‘Heartstone’ and ‘Magic of the Gathering.’ There is always ‘(Super) Smash (Bros),’ too.”

Schwartz has had a positive experience both during and outside of team competitions. One of the many reasons why Schwartz appreciates the team is because of the relationships he has formed.

“I hadn’t known many people on the team,” Schwartz said. “I’m now good friends with all of them. It’s just really fun. We’re like a big family.”

“I hadn’t known many people on the team. I’m now good friends with all of them. It’s just really fun. We’re like a big family.”

— Gabe Schwartz

Walters, Mazzucchi and Schwartz agreed about the close bond they have developed with the team. The esports team would like to recruit more members.

If interested in joining Allegheny esports, contact Jacob Walters at [email protected] for more information.