WSU students battle in independent gaming league

Club particpates in games against other schools in conference



PACG, the first ever Pac-12 esports league, is entirely run by students from 11 different schools in the conference. The inaugural season started earlier this month.

JACKSON GARDNER, Evergreen reporter

With the inaugural season of the Pacific Alliance of Collegiate Gamers underway, the WSU Esports  club finally gets to see where their skills stack up in the Pac-12 with the first-ever esports league in the conference.

Long before the PACG was conceived, the Pac-12 showed interest in organizing an esports league in 2016. WSU student and founder of the Esports club Edward Kuo was involved in those discussions, which eventually fizzled out.

“There were a lot of agreements and disagreements, but they couldn’t get anything settled,” Kuo said. “Since Utah has strong faculty backing for esports, they kind of led the initiation.”

In order for the Pac-12 to move forward with organized events, they needed a unanimous vote from university presidents. In November 2016, Stanford University and University of Colorado voted against the league, which ended further discussions, according to ESPN.

This fall, representatives of esports clubs from 11 different Pac-12 schools, including WSU sophomore Bobby Belter, announced the organization of the PACG, which is entirely run by students with the help of Utah’s esports program.

The league has no official affiliation with the Pac-12 as of now, but the goal is to reignite a conversation to receive recognition from the conference.

The PACG hosts events for League of Legends, Overwatch, Hearthstone and Rocket League. The season kicked off earlier this month and entails a round-robin style competition, which will seed a championship tournament in April.

Each week, the league plays League of Legends on Monday, Overwatch on Tuesday, Hearthstone on Wednesday and Thursday and Rocket League on Friday. All of the PACG’s events can be viewed on the University of Utah’s Twitch page.

Kuo also founded the League of Legends club. This prompted a series of similar gaming clubs forming under WSU Esports, which serves as an umbrella for the sub-communities of different games.

The club has branches for all the PACG games and others, like Defense of the Ancients 2, Counter-Strike and Super Smash Bros.

The most common misconception Belter and Kuo found is that people feel like they need to be an elite gamer to be involved with the club. While the club does have established first teams for League of Legends and Rocket League, it encourages its members to create their own teams with their friends.

The club is more of a community of gamers than active members attending weekly meetings. A member’s participation only goes as far as he or she wants it.

“Growing the community is the important part, because gaming is the future,” Belter said. “Everyone in this room has grown up in front of a computer, phone in their hand, probably playing a game at some point.”

All it takes to get involved is joining the WSU Esports Facebook page. Students can also join one of the various sub-pages the club has to connect with the community of a specific game.

Belter said he hopes the club can attract more students with a passion for gaming.

“It really is about finding people who play similar games and let them interact,” Belter said. “That’s the better part I find. A lot of the time, if I am playing a game by myself, I just don’t enjoy it as much. It is 100 percent better when you have someone to play with.”