The University of Southern Maine’s Esports program held tryouts over the weekend, recruiting players to go up against other schools in a competitive season that kicks off later this month on Sept. 25.
USM’s Esports program offers students two ways to play: on a competitive team or on a non-competitive team. This weekend’s tryouts, which drew nearly 70 students, aimed to fill out squads on the competitive teams that will play for USM as a member of the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference. The team will compete in a variety of games, including League of Legends, Super Smash Brothers Ultimate, FIFA23, NBA2K23, Fortnite, Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2, Rainbow Six Siege, and several others.
Michael Brown, the president of USM’s Esports club team, said interest in competitive online gaming is growing exponentially, and USM’s gaming community is becoming more popular, as well.
“In addition to all the players who participated in the tryouts over the weekend,” Brown said, “we have about 180 who participate in our Discord channel.” Discord is an online community where like-minded people can spend time together talking about the games that interest them.
The ECAC regular season lasts for eight weeks, Brown said, with a post-season round of playoffs that lasts for another three weeks for those teams who qualify, wrapping up on Dec. 15.
Tournaments are held five days a week throughout the season, and USM’s matches are publicly streamed on the team’s Twitch channel.
USM’s Esports program, Brown said, has something for everyone, adding that he’s even heard from a number of students who are interested in providing in-game commentary for the team’s Twitch channel.
“There are a lot of people who look at Esports and think they’re not good enough and won’t be able to compete, but it’s not all about competition,” Brown said. “ There are a lot of people who are totally passionate about playing, and we encourage anybody who wants to play to come play. You don’t have to compete. It’s all about the camaraderie and building community.”