Gamers prepare for tournament



A member from WSU’s Esports Rocket League A team prepares for the inaugural Electronic Gaming Federation’s invitation Tuesday in Chinook Room 25. The event will occur Jan. 18 and 19 in New York City.

JAKOB THORINGTON, Former Evergreen reporter

Downstairs in the Chinook 25, ten students sit at computer monitors with their headsets and lit up keyboards. Some use the keyboards; others plug in their personalized gaming controllers as they practice the video games Rocket League and Overwatch.

One team practicing is WSU’s Esports Rocket League A team. The team will represent WSU in New York City during the inaugural Electronic Gaming Federation’s invitation on Jan. 18 and 19.

Rocket League is a video game where players control cars with booster jets on a virtual soccer pitch. Players work together to shoot a giant soccer ball into the opposing team’s goal.

The team is led by club president Bobby Belter, senior computer science major. Joining him are James Madamba, junior management information services major and Glen Bennett, junior electrical engineering major.

“It’s not something I would’ve ever expected really,” Belter said. “Having the opportunity to do this is just crazy.”

They will compete against other collegiate teams from schools such as Louisiana State University and Georgetown University. The tournament will be streamed on the organizer’s Twitch page.

The club was founded in 2015 for members to play a wide variety of video games. Belter said the club has grown to a visible presence around campus rather than just being a source for people to play games with people they know.

Belter said he has tried to grow the club ever since he became president by expanding involvement and pushing for the club to participate in more events. The club is also a place for casual gamers, and they have weekly game nights for more easy-going games, he said.

Club members communicate mainly through the app Discord. Belter said they have more than 400 verified students active on their Discord.

“It’s far and away different from how it was when I started,” Belter said.

Members of WSU’s Esports Rocket League A team holds practice to hone their video game skills Tuesday night in Chinook 25. Club president Bobby Belter said the club was founded in 2015 and has grown beyond being a source for people to play video games.

During practice, the teams play games online and call out locations and plays for their strategies. Communication and team comradery are vital to their success, Madamba said.

“It’s really important for us to establish getting together and socializing because it builds trust in-game,” he said. “We have fun when we play together.”

Bennet said the opportunity to go to New York and represent the university against other schools is a unique experience.

“To be on a school team, to represent a school, and to go out and get to play other schools, it really feels like you’re a part of something bigger than just casually playing with your friends,” Bennet said.

All three members said Rocket League is among their favorite games and their most played. Madamba said he has put over 2,500 hours into Rocket League.

“The time that people put into real sports, people like us put just as much time into our games and trying to improve,” he said.