Sophomore Jonathan Yacovelli loves watching professional baseball. Equally exciting for him is the thrill of watching competitive online gaming.
Whether they are playing their favorite games against other people or watching teams battle out it out on the screen, students like Yacovelli in the eSports Club said they are passionate about the world of online gaming and the community it has built. Competitions can take place in quiet dorm rooms or sold-out arenas, but now the club plans to establish itself on Main Campus.
ESports are competitive video games such as “League of Legends,” “Defense of the Ancients,” “Counter-Strike” and “StarCraft.” Players can join their friends and other players worldwide in competitions, along with watching professional competitors participate in their favorite games.
Yacovelli, president of the eSports club, said he became hooked on online gaming once he got to college.
“I was a console kid when I was growing up, but when I got into high school I played more online games,” Yacovelli said. “When I got to Temple, my one roommate played ‘League’ and he got me into playing it a lot. Since then I’ve just watched everything and have been playing it nonstop.”
His roommate Alec Murphy is the club’s vice president, as well as a Cherry Crusade member.
“I’ve been involved with video games pretty much since 1999,” Murphy said. “When we got to school last year, a couple of friends and I were like, ‘Man, there’s no real video game or eSports presence on campus.’”
After recruiting a few more interested students through friends as well as through Reddit, eSports Club became an official student organization this year with help from Riot Games – the company that makes “League of Legends” – and a sponsorship from the eSports Association.
Yacovelli and his friends had a “League of Legends” team together previously, where they competed in a college tournament. This led them to recruit people to play “League of Legends,” Yacovelli said, and to start a club for it. What was originally going to be a “League of Legends” club was shut down by the activities board because they thought it was too similar to the Gaming Guild, so Yacovelli and Murphy made the club appeal to players of other games as well.
Yacovelli said he hopes the club will host in-house tournaments for a variety of games. Murphy said they plan to get teams together for each of the games the members play.
The group hosted its first official meeting on April 2, but club leaders said they have had trouble finding a permanent location for their meetings since they formed so late in the semester. The meeting allowed members to meet the executive board and discuss future plans for the club.
“We want to expand members and get more people so it’s less central to ‘League’ and more spread out to everyone and every game,” Yacovelli said. “We want to try to make more events, too.”
The club also hosted a viewing party to watch professional games on Saturday, as viewing is a major part of the eSports community.
“This is a pretty big thing,” Yacovelli said. “They had a tournament last year and they sold out the Staples Center within an hour.”
Murphy and Yacovelli said they hope that by advertising through fliers and word of mouth, they can gain more members, noting that some students have shown interest recently.
As Yacovelli spoke in the TECH Center about the club, senior chemistry major Soon Kwon perked up as he heard “StarCraft” and asked Yacovelli for more information on the club.
“I haven’t played ‘StarCraft’ in so long,” Kwon said. “I started playing again last semester and got bored of it quickly because I didn’t have anyone else to play with, so this is seriously perfect for me.”
Yacovelli said that despite his console gaming past, online gaming is where the real excitement is, as it has a fan base beyond just players.
“For competitive gaming and watching it, you can know people and see stories about older guys, like 50-plus, and dads that watch it,” Yacovelli said. “They don’t play it, but they understand the concept of the game. Personally, I think it’s a lot more fun to watch than it is to play at times.”
Brendan Menapace can be reached at BSMenapace@temple.edu.