SDSU eSports club plays up the ranks

Andrew Rasmussen, News Editor

Competitive gaming recently took national headlines by storm when a 16-year-old won $3 million during the Fortnite World Cup. The eSports club is getting South Dakota State University involved with video game competitions like these.

eSports is a term used to describe the world of competitive video games. SDSU has seen the growth of its own club in recent years. The SDSU eSports club has over 80 members and nine competitive teams. 

Although competition is a large part of what eSports is about, the SDSU eSports club is a place for everyone that is interested in video games. 

“It’s open to casual and competitive people. We don’t want people to think this is just strictly a competitive club,” said Matthew Flesche, president of SDSU eSports club. 

The club was recently brought under the sports club classification with SDSU, which will open up some benefits following the current trial semester.

“Coming out of high school, I missed doing competitive things … Finding out that video games could be played in a competitive scene and the fun of having really competitive environments … was really great,” said Steven Ettorre, SDSU eSports media relations officer. 

Meetings consist of the “Smash Weeklies” and other game nights. Members bring their own equipment to the basement of the student union and enjoy a night of competition. 

Outside of the SDSU game nights, competitive members compete across the state and country, sometimes for lucrative amounts of money.  

“Usually the higher reward, the higher skill level of the team,” said Ettorre. 

Depending on the competition, rewards range from $500 to a couple thousand dollars.  

“Some (competitions) require payments. Those usually have the larger prize pools,” said Hailey Kristjanson, a member of the SDSU eSports club.

The club has been at SDSU for a while now, but the original group looked much different than the atmosphere current members enjoy. The club originally started as a League of Legends club and has since evolved into a competitive, multi-game way for video game enthusiasts to meet up. 

“We are growing really fast,” said Flesche, who noted the club has gone from around 15 members to over 80 in just a couple of years. 

The club’s male to female ratio of the club has also changed significantly. Kristjanson noted she joined as one of the only females a few years ago. Now, around 20% of the club is made of females. 

SDSU eSports competes under the Collegiate Starleague, a national organization with over 1,800 universities and 55,000 active players, according to their website. 

The Collegiate Starleague is the widely accepted organization that runs competitions and tracks teams’ rankings across the country. 

In addition to in-person game nights, SDSU eSports also offers a way for members to connect outside of the regular meetings. Discord, comparable to the popular video conferencing system, Skype, allows members to chat and play from the comfort of their dorm room.