By: K.J. Wylie/GCU Staff
From unknown to top 10 in the country.
With quiet concentration that led to loud shouts flying across the room, the Grand Canyon University eSports Club team competed in the Tespa League Playoffs, and ultimately made it to the Sweet 16. The tournament was host to 5,000 streaming viewers, and after earning a bye in the first round, the Lopes opened the tournament by sweeping Clemson University, 3-0, in a best-of-5 match.
Lopes’ Head Coach Chris Unquera felt the team utilized playing to their strengths the entire matchup.
“We focused on when to pick fights with the other team, and controlled the pace game,” said Unquera. “We pushed Clemson out of their comfort zone, and made them play to a style that was advantageous to us.”
To the non-gamer, the terminology used would have easily sounded like a foreign language. However, anyone could see that the chemistry GCU’s players have with each other is special. Strategies and in-game adjustments were being made on the fly, and because of the impressive play, Tespa game casters nicknamed the players the “Raid Boss Team.”
Lopes’ team captain Justen Johns had an interesting perspective on the increased exposure the program received this season.
“We’re a team who hasn’t even known each other for a year, yet (we’re) playing against schools with years of practice together,” said Johns. “We’re happy to be able to represent GCU on a national level, and hopefully, we’ll continue to get our name out there.”
After advancing past Clemson, the program squared off against New Jersey Institute of Technology for the right to compete in the Elite 8. The Lopes went into the game as a slight underdog with it being a No. 8 vs No. 9-seed matchup.
Three nail-bitingly close games led to NJIT taking the victory over GCU with a final 3-0 score in another best-of-5 series. Despite suffering the loss, the Lopes’ Overwatch team is still considered to be a powerhouse in the country on a collegiate level.
What does an offseason look like for a team that shattered expectations?
“We need to adapt to what the opposing team throws at us quicker,” said Unquera. “We’ll spend the offseason scrimmaging against other schools around the country to improve our weaknesses and become more well-rounded.”
“We can easily surpass next year where we ended this year,” added Johns. “We won’t be playing a different game next semester, just focusing on getting better for next season.”
As this concludes the season for the Overwatch team, the eSports program will begin featuring other gaming teams such as League of Legends and Counter Strike GO. Both teams have tournaments scheduled for the spring semester.