College opens Esports lounge to serve new competitive video gaming club | Local

Bryson Cole was given a hard “no” the first time he tried to form an esports team at his college in upstate New York.

Cole brought the idea forward because of student interest on campus to be a part of the large and growing world of electronic sports, or esports. He did not let the initial rejection stop him.

He and other students worked to change the college’s bylaws and the state university system’s policies and eventually succeeded in bringing an esports team to campus.

When Cole, now a senior at College of Coastal Georgia, brought a similar proposal to administrators on the Brunswick campus, he received a warmer response than he had in New York. Cole shared this story last week at the ribbon cutting for the new esports lounge in CCGA’s Student Activity Center.

“The thing that I noticed is that this community is one of the most supportive of its students when it comes to esports,” he said.

Cole is serving as the leader of the college’s new competitive video gaming club, Mariner Esports, formed this fall.

Esports take video gaming to another level with organized competitive gameplay between teams or individuals.

Esports is one of the world’s fastest growing sports and is now a billion-dollar industry with a combined projected global audience and devoted fan base of 557 million by 2021.

Collegiate esports teams are also being created across the United States, with some colleges offering approximately $15 million per year in scholarships to have the best players join their teams.

The college opened its new esports lounge, which has been in the works for about a year, Friday, said Michael Butcher, assistant vice president of student affairs and dean of students at the college.

“We’ve been working really hard, and to say this has been a team effort to make an esports lounge happen is an understatement,” he said.

CCGA is now one of only a few college institutions in Georgia to offer an esports lounge, Butcher said.

“The esports environment is enormous already. It’s projected to grow exponentially,” he said. “For our college to have this facility here is an incredible achievement.”

The lounge was recently updated to accommodate new gaming PCs, gaming chairs, color-changing LED lights and multiple flat screen TVs. The current games Mariners Esports has are League of Legends, Overwatch, Valorant, NBA 2K, Super Smash Bros., Call of Duty, DOTA 2, Rocket League, Street Fighter and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.

Each video game team will have one student captain and one student manager. All the teams will have regulated practice times during the week and will come together on a designated day to update Cole and the club advisor, German Vargas, on their progress.

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