The NIACC eSports team is wrapping up its first season as a team when the post-season begins on Wednesday. But no matter how this post-season turns out for the first-year squad, head coach Leo Livingston will call the season a success.
“We have by far exceeded my expectations,” Livingston said. “We had a lot of growing pains, trying to figure out who was fit to stay on the starting rosters for both titles and who needed some time to grow.“ But when we fit the pieces together just right, we shot to the top of the division.” NIACC is competing in the NJCAAE Tier 3 Open Series competition, which is an open level of NJCAAE competition. Participants do not have to meet any student eligibility requirements. Teams participating in this level of competition compete for the title of NJCAAE Open Series champions in their respective games.
Tier 1 (Premier Series) competition is the top level of NJCAAE competition for members with teams made up of eligible students.
Tier 2 (Contender Series) competition is the mid-level of NJCAAE competition for members with teams made up of eligible students.
Livingston said the Trojans are hoping up to the Tier 2 level in the spring.
NIACC earned the top seed for Overwatch 2 and are the second seed for League of Legends. During the regular season, NIACC recorded a 9-3 record in Overwatch 2 and were 6-4 in League Of Legends.
In the Overwatch competition, top-seed NIACC received a first-round bye and face either Anne Arundel Community College or North Central Michigan College in the second round at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.
In the League of Legends competition, NIACC received first-round bye and faces either Western Technical College or Herkimer College at 2 p.m. Saturday.
Freshman Ezra Eggums said he’s excited for the upcoming post-season tournament.
“We’re doing very well and we’re very excited for our (tournament) games,” Eggums said. “We’re a little nervous but also very confident in our abilities and general team dynamic.”
NIACC’s five-player Overwatch 2 team will consist of Eggums, freshman Gavin Blackman and sophomores Nick Goskeson, Jaimes Zaragoza and Rimmy Cara. Eggums is the captain of the Overwatch 2 team. “Having to fulfill that role has been a great experience,” Eggums said. “It’s been a great learning opportunity for me and my players.”
NIACC’s League Of Legends squad will consist of Cara, sophomores Braxton Meints and Ryan Bleakney and freshman Aaron Tejirina and Victor Januario.
“Our main focus this season was just building the team to be competitive,” Livingston said. “We weren’t coming into this season expecting to be where we are. “I started the year saying our first season would be our training season as we all had no idea of how we all played or if we would even work well together, but we knew our main goal was to move up a division in the spring.” Livingston, who is also the eSports coach at Belmond-Klemme High School, said he’s enjoying coaching eSports on the collegiate level.
“I am no longer trying to teach players how the game works, the fundamentals, and the like,” the first-year coach said, “but I am able to focus on team chemistry, who works well where, and analyzing opposing school footage to better help my players in competitions.”
Livingston said that eSports brings students from all walks of life together. “Most people think of eSports as just people who aren’t athletic and just play video games,” he said, “but in reality, most of my players are very active in other sports and activities. We have soccer players, we have track runners and rugby players, we have wrestlers, and some are in choir. I myself did boxing and am an avid weightlifter. It’s just a great way of bridging the gap between traditional athletes and students who were never into traditional sports.”