UNA Esports on the rise

Quin Norris, Sports Editor

In the past decade the world of sports has seen a new field of opportunity rise in the world of competition through competitive video gaming. Naturally we have seen this create Esports teams across collegiate campuses everywhere. So naturally here at the University of North Alabama we have seen the starting of a new club called North Alabama Gaming.

In the Fall of 2019 the club began with 20 members at the initial interest meeting. When asked how the club began to grow, president Zane Mooney said, “We got sponsors from Steele Series, For the One Game Store, Maple’s Rugs and Precision Marksman Technologies just to see what kind of funding we could get for our club. Our first priority was to use social media since many students do not read the flyers on campus. So through social media and sponsors we were able to really grow as we now have the third largest collegiate Esports page in the state.”

Due to the logistics surrounding Esports North Alabama gaming is currently able to avoid many of the problems that other sports on campus face. “We have already started competing with duos in Call of Duty finishing in the top 16 out of 132 teams. For the fall we have an advantage being able to use quality hardware through a virtual setting in Covington.” When asked why they use Covington president Mooney said, “We use Covington because it allows us to use good internet speed and have quality equipment that many students would not normally have access to.”

In the past year the team has had average finishes against colleges all across the country. This would include universities such as Ohio State, New Mexico, UTSA and UAH. For only being a first year club the team shows much promise when it comes to future competitions throughout the 2020-21 school year. The major hurdle however for making competitive gaming a nationally recognized sport nation wide is the lack of cohesive structure that an organization such as the NCAA provides for the mainstream sports such as football, basketball, and baseball. As far as competitions you can see North Alabama Gaming compete in this year there will be too many to count in a multitude of games. Make sure to go to North Alabama Gaming’s twitch page to look for competitions they will be having all year.

North Alabama Gaming is more than just a competitive team though. The utmost priority for the group is to provide a place for many of their members to have a community to grow through one another. They are also big on doing charity as President Mooney states, “Our biggest thing this year is charity because this world has kind of gone to crap so we are trying to give back. We just had a charity event with the fraternities where they could win a prize for their philanthropies and are wanting to do that again. In October we will be running a 24 hour stream for Child’s Play streaming on Twitch and taking donations during this live event to raise money for Children hospitals.” This is an interesting advantage the club has on traditional sports as they have an opportunity to raise money on a scale that no FCS sports team can really achieve.

Soon North Alabama Gaming will be looking to start a scholarship fund as they are always open to having new members join and compete in a multitude of games. Currently North Alabama Gaming only supports 10 different games but always are looking to support more games as interest in those games grow. As far as I could tell from the interview conducted with President Money the opportunities for expansion are only limited by the interest of the members in the club.

Be sure to keep an eye on North Alabama gaming as they will only continue to grow in popularity as the market of competitive gaming only continues to grow in popularity in the United States and around the world. This trend can be seen as close as this summer when ESPN broadcasted NBA 2K tournaments all summer and may look to do more of the same in the future.

Along with having a very positive outlook on their culture with the motto, “It is not about winning. We allow students that have never been on a team to professionally develop themselves into a team member for the real world.” With this mindset the group will continue to create not just good gamers but also dependable and trustworthy members of society who will actively shape future generations to come. I highly encourage readers to at least attempt to follow this message and implement it into their daily lives as well.