Currently in its second season the New Mexico Tech Miners E-Sports league hosts a variety of options for both casual and serious gamers throughout the school year. One of the fastest growing sports around the world, including a 14 year old United States Fortnite player winning $3,000,000 earlier this year, E-Sports is quickly becoming one of the most popular competitions around the globe.
Located on the top floor of the Gold building, the E-Sports room is a separate sub-network of 13 custom built computers, one of which is deemed the master and live streams competitive gaming to the website twitch.tv. Every week competitions for Rocket League, Rainbow Six, League of Legends, and Overwatch take place depending on student availability.
New Mexico Tech President Stephen Wells approached current E-Sports President Damien Banks, a junior studying mechanical engineering, with the idea of creating an E-Sports league before the 2018-19 school year as per a growing interest from students on campus. The initial budget was set at $60,000.
“At the beginning of each month we sit down and write out what teams can play at what times,” Banks said. “We try to organize times with other universities to figure out when and what our players can compete in and at what times. This is possibly the largest club we have here at Tech with more than 200 members and more than 40 competitive team contenders.”
The gaming network is not connected to the main Tech network and is available for students to use throughout the year. The 16GB custom PC’s run off of military grade fiber optics. Logitec webcams and headsets are used with Razor brand keyboards, Acer monitors and iBUYPOWER mouses and computer systems. Ergonomic chairs from GTRACING are stationed at each gaming port which helps to provide back support for gamers during longer stretches of play.
A sophomore student studying astrophysics, Francisco Pedroza competes in the popular Rocket League, which in laymen’s terms is like playing soccer while using a car to kick the ball around the field.
“My mother got me a Playstation when I was around 12 years old for Christmas,” he said. “I started playing Rocket League with my friends and pretty quickly I got really good at it. The most important part is to just come and have fun while also meeting new friends here at the school.”
One of the main focuses of the school in creating this program was to provide an outlet for incoming students to create a social group during their rigorous academic schedule. Kameron Knight, a freshman student from Los Lunas, has quickly become one of the groups most active members.
“I was excited when I heard about this at orientation,” he said. “Being in Los Lunas there weren’t a ton of people who played video games like I did but here a lot of people do which is so great that they relate to what I’m interested in. I would tell people who think this is nerdy or whatever and it isn’t a sport, try sitting in the chair for eleven hours while you constantly have to be engaged in a game. It’s a whole different challenge from your prototypical sport. It takes a lot mentally to be good.”
A stigma closely connected to competitive gaming is that it is not a real sport. NMT E-Sports looks to flip that narrative. Fifth year student Floyd Bell is a former football player from New Mexico Military Institute and transferred to Tech in order to finish a degree in mechanical engineering. A casual gamer, his roommate Banks turned him onto the group and now he spends several hours a week playing.
“‘D’ kept pushing me to try this out and pretty quickly I was hooked,” he said. “I try to play when I can, but on a scale of 1 to 10 I’m around a 5. This is a great little community here. A lot of different people come and it’s very similar to when I played ball, just in a different form.”
“This is a very good way to pass time,” Banks added. “You’re actively engaging in something. For me personally, I love physical sports too but I’m not 7 feet tall like Shaq. With this anyone can pick up a mouse and be competitive if they want to put the time into it.”
A large television monitor and surround sound system is set up in the center of the room for visitors to watch live streaming of other competitive gamers and can also be used for games on an Xbox One. The group plans to expand into more console gaming with the addition of a Playstation 4 as well as a Nintendo Switch system. For more information visit the New Mexico Tech ESports facebook page