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GCU Esports shines in Valorant Tourney

Esports Valorant play
April 28, 2020

Lopes finish in top 64 in closed beta collegiate event

By Mack Drake/GCU Staff

There is one program back “between the lines” at GCU – albeit “informally”.

In their first competitive tournament since COVID-19 sent the various programs home for the spring, both Grand Canyon University Esports Valorant teams turned in successful outings at last week’s Andbox Spring Rally Collegiate Tournament.

GCU Team 1 and Team 2 each cracked the top 64 after advancing through the group round-robin stage and the opening round of bracket play.

Hosted by Andbox — a new Esports organization located in New York — the tournament was an online event involving a range of college-focused Esports programs composed of full-time students from schools around the country.

After qualifying for the 128-team bracket play stage, Team 1 advanced to the second round with a close 2-0 victory over Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute of New York before being eliminated with a 2-1 loss to Rutgers University of New Jersey, which went on to finish in the top 8.

GCU quickly assembled the two teams to compete in the tournament after some students gained access to the Valorant closed beta. Valorant, an upcoming free-to-play multiplayer first-person shooter developed and published by Riot Games, has not been released to the public, but does have a closed beta.

A few GCU students got their hands on the beta, and decided to form a pair of teams to compete in the Andbox tournament.

“The students were getting really excited for the game’s actual release and were able to get access to the beta,” said GCU Esports Program Coordinator Albert Lee. “They came to me with the idea of playing in the Andbox tournament, and they decided to hold tryouts and put two teams together. They handled and organized everything. It was very much a student-driven effort that really only came together about two weeks ago.”

The two GCU Valorant teams were comprised of players hailing from a range of video game disciplines.

Some players’ gaming roots were in Fortnite, while others came over from GCU’s Call of Duty and Counter Strike teams.

There could soon be an official GCU Valorant team. Partly due to the team’s success in the tournament and the level of student anticipation for Valorant’s full release, Lee anticipates fielding at least one team dedicated to the game next year.

“I’m expecting to have one Valorant team, but we’ll gauge the interest level and decide if we can add a second team as well,” Lee said.

As with all other sports and extracurricular activities around campus, the Lopes’ Esports program has also been affected by the coronavirus.

Many of the collegiate Esports leagues GCU competes in have suspended operations, with no timetable for a return in sight.

Lee said most of the program’s competitive player are competing casually at the moment.

‘We’re not really sure when competition will resume,” Lee said. “We’re just trying to keep an eye on everything. Most of what our players are involved in right now is informal.”

Want to learn more about GCU Esports?  Visit the team page to learn more!