Students enjoy new gaming hub with Esports Arena opening

With intense expressions and fast fingers, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville students are in multiplayer gaming heaven, engaging in both casual and competitive video play in the newly opened Esports Arena, located in Bluff Hall.

The Esports Arena was officially introduced during a January grand opening and ribbon-cutting event in which students, alumni, SIUE faculty, staff and administrators, and representatives from Scott Air Force Base toured the new space, which features a competition area and gaming lounge.

An SIUE Innovation Grant, awarded through the Office of the Chancellor, supported the arena’s establishment. Campus partners that played a role in the arena’s planning and execution included Campus Recreation, University Housing, Information Technology Services, University Housing Facilities Management, the Office of Student Affairs, and the Esports Club.

Chancellor Randy Pembrook rephrased the famous “Field of Dreams” quote during his grand opening remarks. Instead of “if you build it, he will come,” he said, “if you come, we will keep building.”

“If you have an idea, please bring it forward, and let’s transform this university together,” Pembrook said. “The Esports Arena will not only offer current students a gathering place in which to enjoy sportsmanship and camaraderie, but also it will enhance our important recruitment and retention initiatives.”

The new Esports Arena is home to 12 high-end gaming computers, 2 TVs to which students can attach their own systems, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 graphics cards and Intel Core i5-8400 processors. The games currently installed include: League of Legends, Overwatch, Counter-Strike Global Offensive, Hearthstone, Rocket League, Dota 2 and Apex Legends. Game clients are Battlenet, Origin, Epic Games and Steam, and the voice system in use is Discord.

“We are grateful for the phenomenal support we have received from the University and alumni,” noted Esports Club President Jordan Kramer, a senior studying computer science in the SIUE School of Engineering. “This is just the base of opportunities. It’s a place we can come together with shared interests in video gaming, rather than playing alone in a room or apartment. It’s an area where we can be ourselves and show who we really are, without hesitation.”

The university’s Esports Club, housed in Campus Recreation, has approximately 200 student members and regularly hosts events on campus.

Varsity teams include Overwatch, Counter-Strike Global Offensive, Super Smash Bros Ultimate/Melee, Hearthstone, League of Legends, Rainbow Six Siege, Call of Duty and Dota 2. The Hearthstone team recently gained national attention by advancing to the semifinals of the fall 2019 Hearthstone Collegiate Championship in Arlington, Texas and finishing fourth overall.

Details on the Esports Arena and the Esports Club are available at www.siue.edu/esports.

PHOTO: SIUE Esports Club members enjoy the new Esports Arena in Bluff Hall.

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