Most UR sports teams and clubs have found themselves held back by COVID-19.
Most students were sent home, and regardless of where students are geographically, the pandemic makes any contact sport a hazard.
One club, though, found operational changes to be minimal.
UR Esports is mainly run through Discord — by design, they’re mostly impervious to the tribulations of soft lockdowns, quarantines, and distancing. On top of that, UR Esports publicity chair and senior Eric Mendelson told the Campus Times that the club provided a social lifeline amid isolation.
“[Distancing] has pretty much killed any type of social life,” Mendelson said. “And so I find on most days, the friends I talk to the most are my [UR] Esports friends.” He added that a group of them have been playing “Among Us” lately.
UR Esports is a video gaming club, mainly focused on competitive gaming. “Our main goal is to organize competitive teams to compete in tournaments,” UR Esports vice-president and sophomore Emersyn Harris said. Different teams play different games, so there’s a team for “Overwatch,” “Dota 2,” and “League of Legends,” to name a few.
Each team has a chair, who sets up scrims (essentially practices) and figures out the team roster. Where and how a team competes varies, but often UR teams will play teams from other colleges, like RIT.
Despite the competitive focus of the club, one practice session with the “Valorant” team had a relaxed energy. The players referred to each other by their Discord usernames (which included “Sauce_Man,” “Bot,” and “CoffeeBooksNMagic”) and gamed and chatted a little. The conversation mainly stuck to the gameplay: They made small cries of amazement (“ooh!”) or exasperation (“oof”) as they played, depending on how a game was going.
Harris and Mendelson both said their favorite aspect of the club is the sense of community it provides. “It’s just a big group of welcoming and accepting people,” Harris said. “And so it’s a great thing to be a part of.”
Mendelson said that the club can be a good social outlet for introverts.
“Even if there’s not a pandemic, there’s plenty of people who aren’t the most comfortable going out to parties or larger social events,” he said. “So this kind of opens a door to find your friend group.”
“You don’t even have to meet anyone in person,” he added. “You’re just a voice online.”