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UArizona launches varsity esports program, tryouts begin this Fall

Posted at 9:36 AM, Mar 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-01 18:58:46-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — The University of Arizona is bringing the "Bear Down" mentality to the world of competitive gaming.

On Monday, the university announced it has launched a varsity college esports team, and a program to immerse students into every corner of the industry.

Starting in the 2021 Fall semester, the team will compete in a variety of games, including Call of Duty, League of Legends, Rocket League, Smash Bros., and more.

"Arizona Esports reflects the university’s commitment to support student interest in areas of opportunity," UArizona President Robert C. Robbins said in a news release. "Not only are esports part of an established and growing industry, like traditional sports esports provide avenues to build community, develop critical skills and gain valuable experiences these students will draw upon for the rest of their lives. I am excited to see this program get off the ground, and proud of the student leaders who have helped create it."

The Arizona Esports program builds on an already large gaming presence on campus. According to a press release, more than 1,700 esports gamers attend the university.

Interim director Walter Ries says this is not just a new sports team.

"We see the program as being very comprehensive," Ries said, "...it actually has very strong ties to the academics, and one of the things I want to see is a lot of student engagement."

The team's game space will be housed in the existing game room in the Student Union Memorial Center, which is going to be renovated next month.

"We're going to be using configurable furniture so we can have it set up for tournament play. But then also it is the games room for the students and so it'll be open access for the students to come. They an use the computers and play on their own or get their friends together as well," Ries said.

Tryouts begin later this year. Arizona Esports President Liam Koenneker says it takes more than just being good at a game to make the squad.

"It's not exactly solidified what the tryouts will look like in the fall, but you should expect things like interviews outside of the game. So we can get to know you, we can get to know your motivations, goals, how you're going to fit into the program, and what you really value. So we can also get a sense if you're going to work well on a team. It's common that a lot of people in esports and gaming don't work well on teams. Be ready to be in an environment where everybody is looking to improve and be the best that they can," Koenneker said.

For more information on the program, and player recruitment visit esports.arizona.edu.