The new playing field

Northwest Christian University is the first college in Oregon to offer Intercollegiate Varsity Esports.

The school’s team of gamers will compete in Overwatch, a team-oriented, multiplayer, first-person shooter video game, for the first year.  They will then play League of Legends, a multiplayer online battle arena video game, during the second year.

Taylor Lind was hired as the Head Coach for NCU Esports in April and the signing of its first four gamers was announced a few months later in an NCU website news article.

First, Tyler Chase, or ShockMaster#1960, a Sheldon High School graduate, is a Master level Overwatch player – 3811 SR – and has been at the Grandmaster level previously. Second, and also a graduate of Sheldon High School, is Jacob Gates, Goldfish#11872, another Master level Overwatch player at 3503 SR. The third player announced was Josh Sims, Pendragon#1772, currently a Platinum level in League of Legends; formerly Diamond level among the top 4 percent of all League of Legends players. He will play a support role on the Overwatch team. The last player announced is Alex Daraban, IAMSMARTALEX, a recent Portland State graduate. He has previously attained Grandmaster status and is currently a Master level player at 3900 SR. He will also play a support role on the Overwatch team.

The Overwatch ranking system is based on the gamers’ Skill Rating, or SR, which begins at 1 and can exceed 4000. The higher the number, the higher the skill. It can either go up or down after each match based on individual performance, the difference between each team’s average SR, and the number of wins on a given map. In perspective, a Platinum player will have an SR between 2500 and 2999. The next level up is Diamond with an SR between 3000 and 3499. A Master level player will have an SR between 3500 and 3999. A Grandmaster, at the top, will have an SR of 4000 or higher.

Quentin J. Piccolo // The Torch

Jared Keeth, an NCU alumni, was later hired as an assistant coach and sometime between the early-July announcement of the first four gamers and the present, three more were added to the roster. Gabe Hansen, also a graduate of Sheldon High School, has joined the Overwatch team. Yet another Sheldon High School graduate, Bretton Lloyd, followed and joined the team. The third recent addition, Mike Hoffman, a graduate of Newton North High School in Newton, Massachusetts has also recently joined the Overwatch team.

Head Coach Lind, according to his bio, “has been heavily involved in the esports world for nearly a decade, first as a competitive Halo 3 player and more recently with Satellite Gaming.” He’s credited this experience with “[helping] him to develop his vision for what a collegiate program can become.” According to his online bio, Assistant Coach Keeth “has been a long-time gamer, switching from console to PC gaming over the last few years [specializing] in multiplayer games where he prefers support roles.”

While there are no plans currently, there is the possibility of introducing additional games in the future. There are, however, plans to build an on-site gaming arena.

The team does not have any scheduled matches currently on their website.