EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - Many of us are familiar with video games as a way to relax. However, the relatively new Blugold eSports Club at UW-Eau Claire is taking a more competitive approach. As many of those members explained, esports are about more than simply playing video games.
When most people think about sports, it's usually football or basketball or baseball. But a new type of sport is gaining popularity worldwide. At UW- Eau Claire, Competitive Sports Coordinator Garrett Larson says esports are on the same level as other sports.
“E-sports mirror traditional sports in most sense of the matter. There are practices, there are coaching sessions, and there are competitions, strategy that goes into it, personal reflection,” Larson says. “All the things an athlete would put into a traditional sport; they are also putting that into esports.”
While some may think esports is just playing video games, athletes like Rocket League captain, Ryan Van Blaricom, from the Blugold eSports Club spend hours a day honing their craft.
“When you are actually trying to put in the work and are at one of these tournaments, stress-levels, I believe, are similar to pro-race car drivers,” Van Blaricom says.
The eSports club started in 2017 with a few friends who started playing a game called ‘League of Legends,’ an online computer game. What makes esports so unique, according to those close to it is the way it brings people together.
“Pretty much everyone plays video games, even if you don't always hear about it,” said eSports Club president Sam Kuhlmann. “You get people who aren't socialites; maybe they don't get out as much so they love playing. You get to meet those people, but you also meet basketball players or chess players or coders or teachers.”
There are some gamers who may not have that social aspect in their life because they can’t do traditional sports,’ said eSports treasurer Ben Carmichael.
Thanks to a partnership with Dell, UW-EC was able to get 10 new Alienware computers as well as headsets and chairs. Blugold eSports Club Vice-President, Gabe Lightbody, says he never expected the club to become what it is today.
“When we first started the League of Legends Club, we had no idea that this is what it would turn into. This is honestly beyond our wildest dream when we first began,” he says.
With over 200 active members in the Blugold eSports Club, Larson says it is a great way for students to connect.
“Esports have the potential and have already shown, to engage students that may otherwise not participate in our rec program. We are bringing them in and helping them build a communal aspect.
The next step for Blugold eSports is to join an organization to be able to compete for a national title. According to the National Association of Collegiate Esports, there are over 170 colleges that offer varsity level esports programs. Some even offer scholarships and tuition aid to athletes. For more information, click here or