By M.K. Bryant
Members of UM’s Esports team recently competed in a Rocket League tournament as part of the Peach Belt Conference in Florence, South Carolina. The team departed for South Carolina on Oct. 20 and returned on Oct. 22.
According to UM freshman Daultyn Bradley, “Rocket League is a 3v3 game in which cars play in an enclosed stadium with two opposing nets. The objective is for one team to take a ball and score in the opponent’s net while also having the ability to collect boost to move your car faster.”
The Peach Belt Conference is affiliated with the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Bradley described it as a division two league that allows for the competition of many sports, including esports. It consists of a Masters division intended for Varsity teams, and a Champions divison intended for JV teams. The games included in the conference are Rocket League, Overwatch 2, League of Legends and Valorant.
Esports coach Brandon Parramore explained that the Peach Belt Conference operates similarly to the SEC, and said, “The Peach Belt helps set up our leagues, tournaments, and essentially serves as our governing body.” He also explained that it is one of the only leagues in the country who offers this kind of opportunity for collegiate esports players.
Parramore discussed how, during the season, different collegiate teams compete with other teams participating in the conference. UM’s esports team competed in nine matches during their regular season to determine seeding for the Peach Belt Conference tournament. They qualified for this event as the sixth seed.
Paramore said, “Essentially, these are double elimination tournaments playing a best of five series and a best of seven series for the grand finals to determine the winner.”
He explained that this event is much different than playing on the team’s set-up on campus. Rather than playing online where they cannot see their opponents in person, both teams play simultaneously on a stage with an audience watching. This setting can cause pressure for the players, especially for those who are competing in this sort of environment for the first time.
Although UM’s team lost to the number two and number three seeds of the tournament and made an early exit from the competition, Bradley said, “The experience our team has learned in our first year of competition will make us all the more prepared for next year’s run at a Peach Belt title.”
M.K. Bryant is a contributing journalist for The Alabamian. She’s majoring in mass communication with a concentration in multimedia journalism, and she’s double-minoring in theatre and creative writing. When she’s not busy watering her plants or writing, M.K. can probably be found wandering around an art museum or a library.