May 22, 2018 | ° F

Rutgers eSports hosts annual 'Spring Social' event

Photo by Georgette Stillman |
Spring Social is intended to draw both experienced and amateur eSports players together. This year, the event took place in the Livingston Student Center and attracted more than 150 participants.

During this year's Spring Social, casual game players and experienced eSports competitors alike had the chance to bond over video games and learn about different clubs and teams within the Rutgers eSports organization. 

According to the roster, 170 students attended the event, said Kevin Luyo, an event coordinator and Rutgers Business School junior.

"Ninety percent of the people who showed up were Rutgers—New Brunswick students," Luyo said. "Freshmen were the majority, with 52 percent, and the rest were pretty evenly split between the other three classes, alumni and others."

Some of the most popular eSports clubs at Rutgers are for games like "Hearthstone," "Overwatch," "League of Legends" and "Pokemon," said Vanessa Gao, manager of the competitive eSports team and a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore. 

“We only started trying to become a sports club and have a board this past summer, so I'm on the first group of board members,” Gao said. “We've had teams before but not much of an infrastructure, so this year has been our attempt at gaining an infrastructure so that it will carry on in the future.”

Most Rutgers eSports clubs compete against teams from other universities, but competing is not a necessary part of joining an eSports club, Gao said. 

Many club members who compete have little to no experience playing competitively, said Jonathan Lin, a School of Engineering first-year student. 

Lin is a member of the Rutgers Pokémon Trainers club. He said he played Pokémon in elementary school and recently picked it up again after buying a Nintendo 3DS. Lin played in his first tournament last December and placed second. 

“It's mostly a friendly environment,” Lin said. “We don't force people to go into competitive play. Usually, it's centered around the video games and Pokémon Go. It's more of a bonding experience with other people.”

Lin said club meetings usually have about 30 attendees.

Filip Donskoy said he plays "Starcraft 2" competitively, and he started playing it when it released and has played competitively for about three years, he said. He was recently ranked as 1 of the top 10 grandmasters in "Starcraft 2" in North America.

"Starcraft 2" has a very large and very active competitive community, but the club is open to people of all skill levels,  the School of Arts and Sciences senior said. 

“The club is not like football, where you have a coach and people who specifically train to be good. We have that in the club, but it's more of a side thing,” he said. “The main purpose of the club is to be a place where you can come together and socialize. Most people are casual, but for those who want to compete, I'm there as their acting coach.”

There is also a small but active club for the rhythm game "osu!" said Hu Chiao, a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student. 

Chiao said that he does compete, but not as often as players of major eSports do because many other members are new to "osu!" 

“I'm really hoping that more people can come in, and then we can give them advice,” Chiao said. “If you want to better your reaction time, and then basically your consciousness, I would say that "osu!" is pretty good. It actually makes you think sharper after you've played for a while.”

One of the most popular games at the Spring Social was the Nintendo fighting game "Super Smash Bros."

In the Scarlet Smash club, there are people playing every version of the game, dating back to the original version for the Nintendo 64, said Steven Schley, a School of Arts and Sciences junior.

“There are of course the 'Melee' elitists who are like, 'Nothing's ever gonna be better than 'Melee.'' It's a flawed game, but it's a great game and people will stick by that,” Schley said. “But the thing is, I know people who play 'Melee,' 'Project M,' 'Smash 4,' and 64. I know people who play every game and who are in love with every game, excluding 'Brawl,' because 'Brawl' sucks.”

Michael Serpico has been a member of the Scarlet Smash club since his first year at Rutgers.

He competes in local tournaments and encourages people to get involved with the Scarlet Smash, even if they do not want to play at a competitive level, the School of Arts and Sciences junior said. 

“A lot of people are afraid to start playing 'Melee' right now,” Serpico said. “People have been playing so long, and the technical barrier is pretty high ... But it's such a fun game and the community is so nice. If you're questioning whether or not to play it, just play it and you'll see that it's one of the greatest games ever to exist.”

Max Marcus is a School of Arts and Sciences senior. He is a contributing writer for The Daily Targum.

Max Marcus

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