/Esports response to COVID-19
keyboard and mouse setPhoto by Anna Grace Askelson

Esports response to COVID-19

keyboard and mouse set
Photo by Anna Grace Askelson

Amid the different responses made by the University of Montevallo, student-led and university sponsored organizations have been taking extra measures in handling the pandemic while also trying to balance involvement on campus. The Esports team is no different. Being part of the athletic department and the Peach Belt Conference (PBC), they have made adjustments to respond to COVID-19 appropriately.  

Emily Dickerson, League of Legends player for Esports, social media manager and head of public relations, and Dr. Brendan Beal, the team coach, were asked how the Esports team is addressing COVID-19. Mask guidelines, as well as social distancing guidelines, are to be followed and enforced as per UM rules.  

Their practice room has ten available computers, but only five are being used to follow social distancing; this is no issue because the players are encouraged to practice remotely on their personal setups. The primary concern the team had was somehow fitting their now doubled team into the small practice room.  

Nevertheless, the team worked together and created “an almost entirely inclusive schedule,” said Dickerson.  They continue to meet in Bibb Graves for team meetings, but the practice room will only allow 12 people in at once.  

The team was sad to see their team captain, Jackson Kennedy, leave upon graduating, but they are excited about the new experiences new leadership brings. Instead of continuing to have an overall single captain, there will now be a leadership team. Carter Southworth will be the overhead of League of Legends, with Logan Hare as team captain for the B team. Ethan Baggett is the team’s Overwatch captain. J’son Kangethe is the Smash Ultimate captain and Graham Dickey is the Rocket League captain.  

It is believed that the new leadership team will be better suited to handle each individual game, and will bring better insight into future decisions. There are also two non-game related leadership positions. These is the Head of Recruitment, Linda Silva, and Head of Social Media and Public Relations, Emily Dickerson.  

There is no issue with remote players as the PBC and game publishers allow remote students to continue to participate. Because competition is already virtual, there is little change. The only significant changes are to practice, allowing smaller in-person practices and the scheduling to allow as much in-person training as possible.  

The team will continue to use Discord, a community-based communication platform that allows people to create servers where members can text or voice chat. The team uses Discord to communicate during competition and make important announcements. The PBC and the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE) have messaging systems for team communications.  

The Esports team is a part of the athletic department, wishing to be treated no differently from other sports on campus. Because of this, they have had to suspend practices until further notice. When practice resumes no one will be permitted in their practice room until further notice and that all practices will be virtual.  

If a player does not wish to participate in competition or cannot, the team is willing to find a way for them to continue to be a part of the program. According to Dickerson, one of their players who cannot participate in competition has been recruited to participate in the social media team.  

“He will assist us with streaming ideas and different online project ideas throughout the semester and then will come back next semester,” said Dickerson.  

Managing tryouts is currently being discussed, but should still take place. When the decision is made on how they will be held, the Esports team will be “highly advertising it online and across campus,” said Dickerson.  

If any student wishes to try out but cannot do so remotely, there will be at least “5 socially distanced, in-person computers for those potential recruits that do not have the best equipment at home,” said Beal.  

If a student wishes to try-out for the esports team, they can stay updated with the team’s social media. 

In all, the esports team players appreciate everything that both the athletic department and Dr. Beal have done. The players believe COVID-19 is being handled seriously not just within esports but Montevallo as a whole. 

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Xander Swain is the copy editor for The Alabamian. He is majoring in political science, environmental studies, and sociology and wants to eventually obtain a Ph.D. in sociology. He enjoys cooking for his friends, listening to music and taking long walks on the beach.