Hamline News

Students Compete and Connect During Esports Tournament

Hamline University hosted the first statewide intercollegiate esports tournament in Minnesota over June 5 and 6, 2020. The fifteen-hour tournament, called the Minnesota Collegiate Esports Games: Summer 2020, offered college students from across the state a chance to compete against each other and root for their teams.

The tournament came together in a short four weeks thanks to cooperation among the schools involved.

Members of the Hamline University Esports Team and the school’s Chief Information Officer (CIO), David Chun, convened a group of technology officers from Minnesota Private Colleges (MPCC) to bring the competition online.

“Hamline has been leading the way for many years and when all collegiate sports competition was canceled for the spring season, we felt it was the right time to bring esports to the forefront for our students,” said Chun. “CIO’s from many universities in Minnesota felt the same way.”

The cooperative endeavor met the needs of students at the conclusion of a semester disrupted by COVID-19 and a move to remote instruction.

“A big thing that students missed out on after the switch to online was being able to feel connected to their peers and their school,” said Evan Nelsen, a junior at Hamline University. “This opportunity allowed our students a chance to come together and enjoy ourselves.”

Teams from Hamline University, the University of St. Thomas, the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University, Bethel University, and Augsburg University squared off to battle online in Rocket League, League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.

According to Nelsen, “The event had some bumps, but turned out incredibly entertaining and had a lot higher viewership than expected.” A Counter-Strike-Global Offensive game garnered 70 spectators at one point.

Brady Klaphake, a senior at the College of St. Benedict and St. Johns University, echoed Nelsen’s assessment, reporting that the feedback from participants and viewers was overwhelmingly positive. In a recap memo to organizers, Klaphake said that players and viewers “have been waiting years for something like this”.

In light of the impact of COVID-19 on in-person sporting events, Klaphake noted that esports present a viable opportunity for intercollegiate competition. The costs of events are relatively low and participation from players and fans can be high. Klaphake suggested “a larger scale event in the fall that would include more games, more schools, and be run over a period of a couple of days” as a test of the true potential for esports among MIAC schools.

The full competition was recorded on Twitch and can be viewed here until June 12.

Written by staff.