The Graceland University esports team has been named the champions of the Iowa division B esports league at the GG Leagues tournament at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa, Nov. 16.
“In GG Leagues, the focus is on regional competition. We are in the Iowa B tier due to factors like individual player ranking, etc.,” explained Jared Doty, Graceland Esports coach. “It was unfortunate for other teams in our tier because we play so much higher as a group than our individual rankings. We are one of the best teams in Iowa at any tier.”
“There are other teams with higher-ranked players who cannot come close to beating us in competition because our communication, in-game adjustments and strategy are so much more effective,” Doty continued. “These are skills they’ll need in the global economy, and they practice them a couple times per week with Graceland esports.”
The rising popularity of college esports teams like Graceland is evidence that we are in a new era for collegiate participation. As schools begin to add new, more nontraditional competitive programs like archery, women’s wrestling and rodeo, which Graceland added this past summer, it’s not a surprise to this generation of students that games have become competitive and available at the collegiate level. Esports is simply another extension of students’ desire for a wide range of experiences while earning a degree.
According to Doty, one of the most unique aspects of esports is the democratization of competition. The games are accessible across the planet and the tools are widely available to anyone who wants to improve. Instruction from top level coaches is only a click away. “Even with this open access, few are willing to put in the time or have the discipline to practice with the level of intentionality needed to compete at this level,” he said of Graceland Esports.
In the spring, Graceland Esports will compete with schools outside of Iowa and will field a team with some of the highest-ranked schools in the U.S.
“Esports has been a great addition to my Graceland experience because it has given me a set time to just have fun and be a part of a different kind of team. I know every practice is going to be fun and enjoyable, and I look forward to having this time with the team every week.”
“Esports gives us gamers a place to call home on Graceland’s campus. I’ve definitely formed really good bonds with the other guys in our esports program, and I’ve felt like esports is my way of giving back to Graceland. Hopefully there are more trophies to come!”
“Esports has been a positive addition for me because it has allowed me to be in a team environment again after basketball in high school. It has also been positive for me because I can play a game I really enjoy for [Graceland].”
Nathan Sowers ’20 MrSilverback
Hometown: Pleasantville, Iowa Major: Computer Science and Information Technology Graceland House: Agape Other Involvements: house president of Agape 2018-19, Academic Student Council (ASC) rep 2017-18, ASC board 2019-20, Association for Computing Machinery president 2019-2020
“I have always been a competitive person and played sports all throughout high school, so it has been nice to keep that competitive nature going for me.”
Jared Connell ’21DigitalJay77
Hometown: Highlands Ranch, Colorado Major: Social Media Marketing, Graphic Design Graceland House: Orion Other Involvements: Academic Student Council
“It’s been weird playing a game for years and suddenly having it be something I do for my actual school, but it’s been one of the best programs I’ve joined at Graceland. Both the people involved with it and the experience itself have been some of the most fun I’ve had.”
Doty concluded, “Esports has a wide range of likely participants. The sport is not limited by gender, and equipment needs are low. Athletes who no longer participate in a traditional sport but still have an intense desire to compete can find a home in esports; many of our participants are in other sports or have been on other traditional collegiate teams. The stereotype of a ‘gamer’ is just no longer accurate.”
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