“I tuned in for one stream and I was hooked,” president of the eSports Club Christian Mercale said.
UAA’s eSports Club was founded in the fall of 2017. Mercale says that before then, a small, dedicated group of gamers met regularly at Kaladi Brothers on campus with the goal of bringing eSports to UAA.
“Right when I was starting at UAA, I was trying to do research and see if UAA had an eSports club. The only thing I could find was the Gaming Club. They were just kinda into board games and meeting up… [It was] not really the thing I was looking for. Then, a guy posted on a ‘League of Legends’ Facebook page about wanting to start one at the university and I got excited,” Mercale said.
Mercale says that the club began to take shape in the spring of 2017. The group would meet up during the summer in the Engineering & Industry Building to practice.
“It was awesome because it was all fresh, it was new. We were all learning, but we were passionate about starting [the eSports Club],” Mercale said.
Mercale said that he wasn’t afraid to take on the responsibility of becoming club president.
“I always wanted to expand my leadership experience. So, becoming president was natural to me,” Mercale said. “On [the club’s ‘League of Legends’ team], I like to be the shot caller which is kind of like the leader, so I feel like it was a decent transition.”
“League of Legends” is an online, multiplayer area video game. Two teams of five control unique champions and fight to destroy a structure in the opposing team’s base called a Nexus. Mercale first became interested in “League of Legends” and competitive gaming after high school.
“I’ve always been a competitive person myself. Anything I do, I try to become the best,” Mercale said.
“League of Legends” is popular with the members of the eSports Club. It features a competitive ranked mode, which uses rules that are more similar to tournaments.
“I remember playing ranked so much. I would hop into ranked even though I was bad. I just had the drive to continually get better,” Mercale said.
Mercale is an avid athlete. He says that the draw to watch professional eSports is the same reason people watch other professional sports.
“It’s similar to why people watch football or basketball. I’m a basketball player, so watching the NBA and seeing guys pull off moves is incredible. It’s the same thing in ‘League [of Legends’],” Mercale said. “I think that’s why eSports is so entertaining. It takes an equal amount of strategy and mechanics to see it unfold and to see a team succeed.”
Senshi Con 2017, an annual anime and gaming convention in Anchorage, was the first tournament the eSports Club competed in. The team didn’t do well, Mercale said. However, during Senshi Con last September, the team placed second.
The eSports Club also regularly competes in tournaments hosted by the Collegiate Starleague, or CSL, which is an eSports organization that hosts national tournaments for a variety of games including “League of Legends.”
“We participate in the CSL tournament because playing against other schools is what college eSports is all about,” Christian Miranda, a member of the eSports Club’s ‘League of Legends’ team, said.
Miranda says that the eSports Club competes in as many tournaments as possible to build a reputation with the community and gain experience as a team.
The eSports Club has also started organizing their own tournaments such as the “League of Legends” Summer Split. Mercale participated in the tournament with 907 Gamers, an Alaskan gaming organization. Since 907 Gamers didn’t host another one the following year, Mercale decided to have the eSports Club organize the tournament themselves.
Six teams, including one from the eSports Club, signed up for the Summer Split tournament last year. However, Mercale says the eSports Club is having difficulty finding teams to join this year’s Summer Split.
“We’ve only got two teams signed up right now. Both of which are from our club,” Mercale said.
Mercale says that the teams usually practice online and communicate using Discord. He is also in favor of having teams bond outside of the game, such as exercising and planning activities with teammates.
“I want us all to have in-game synergy as well as out-of-game synergy,” Mercale said.
The eSports Club is currently working with UAA to open an eSports lounge on the second floor of the Student Union. Mercale says that they are working to open the lounge for the fall semester.
The eSports Club meets every other Saturday in the Engineering & Industry Building in room 215 from 4-8 p.m.
For more information about upcoming events, visit the club’s Facebook page, UAA Esports Club, follow them on Twitter at UAA E-Wolves or contact the eSports Club at [email protected]