FREMONT – Midland University, the first college in the region to elevate eSports to a varsity level competition, unveiled its new eSports Arena Wednesday afternoon.
The university has had an eSports team since the summer of 2016, and the team now has its own space to practice and compete in. The arena is located on the third floor of the Olson Student Center, and according to Head Coach Ben Nabity, it was designed with competition in mind. Coach Nabity says having their own space to practice and compete in is a dream, and something they desperately needed last year.
“It’s fantastic. Actually, last year we were in a little closet space with about six computers in there. That’s all we could fit,” said Nabity. “So everyone was pretty cramped. But now with this lab, it’s fantastic. The kids feel like they’re actually part of something. So it’s a definite step up.”
Nabity also explained what had been installed in the arena to allow the eSports team to practice and compete at their highest capabilities.
“We have the computers, which are standard. We have LED lighting in there. It’s both standard lights and colored lights. We have a projector in there. We do a lot of replays. And it’s touchscreen, so I can control everything from there,” said Nabity. “In my office we have my personal-built computer. That’s the one we do all of our Twitch streams from. We do have Arozzi chairs, which are really nice for gaming. They are one of the best, so it’s very nice to have those.”
eSports is one of the fastest growing collegiate team activities. When Midland introduced it as a varsity level team back in 2016, it was one of five colleges across the country to offer athletic scholarships to the players. But arguments are often made that eSports is not a real sport. In response to those arguments, Nabity says their team puts the same amount of work, dedication, and practice into eSports that any other athlete puts into their own sport.
“The games that we play, and the games that are chosen and selected for eSports, are games that require team coordination, team communication, and team discipline. And you have to practice all of those things in order to actually get good,” said Nabity. “And when you’re a competitor in sports, you do that with your team. I know that there’s this physical boundary that people can’t get by, but in these games there is a huge mental handicap that we have to get through in order to play these games competitively, and stay competitive. It’s an emotional toll on people. There’s a chance for tilting, and that’s a real thing, and it does really hinder someone’s ability to play.”
Tilting is when a competitor gets so emotional and caught up in what’s going on that it frustrates them and makes it to where they don’t play to the best of their abilities. There are also ways for players to get physically injured in eSports, carpal tunnel being the most common. To take precaution against any physical tolls on the players, Nabity says the players on their team workout 2-3 times a week to keep them fit and in good shape.
The university hosted a Pac-Man Playoff Challenge during the unveiling of their new eSports arena. Members of the community stepped into the arena to watch some local celebrities challenge each other with a game of Pac-Man.
The competitors included Tara Lea from the Fremont Area Chamber of Commerce, Steve Lundy from Cat 103.7, Kari Lawrence from Walnut Radio, Travis Kreikemeier, Cindy Slykhuis from First State Bank and Trust, and Scott Meister from Pinnacle Bank. After a few practice rounds the competition got underway, and Walnut Radio came away with the win and the trophy.
To learn more about eSports, the Midland University team, and to listen to the full interview with Head Coach Ben Nabity, you can go to 1340KHUB.com and TheBestMix1055.com and click on Podcasts.