By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
DAVENPORT —Electronic gaming continues to increase in popularity across the United States and St. Ambrose University has jumped at the opportunity to start a college esports team. At the same time, the university is also sponsoring a Fighting Bees Gaming League for Quad-City area high schools.
Ray Shovlain, athletic director at St. Ambrose, said the esports team falls within the athletics department, which is able to offer team scholarships. The first-year team belongs to the National Association of Collegiate Esports and has 16 members.
The St. Ambrose team will compete against other colleges across the U.S. One nice thing about esports is that travel is limited, Shovlain noted. The use of virtual reality means competitors don’t have to leave their home base to play. Occasional travel for tournaments will occur.
Josh Sides, head coach for the Bees’ esports team, said college esports has been growing tremendously — from 11 teams two years ago to 35 teams last year and an estimated 90 teams this year.
Most events are “swiss” style, he said, with opponents decided upon and paired up by record as the season advances. A room has been set up in Cosgrove Hall where most matches will be played. Some will be played at the newly opened Paradigm in downtown Davenport. The two games played primarily at the college level will be Overwatch and League of Legends, Shovlain said.
Regarding the Fighting Bees Gaming League for high school teams, Sides said, “I think it is a great opportunity for us to help in growing the esports scene in the Quad Cities.”
League play for the high school level will be held at Paradigm, beginning in October. A tournament will follow the league season. High school teams will compete in Fortnite, Overwatch and League of Legends.