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On Saturday, December 8, a team of six NJIT gamers braved New York public transportation and the cold streets of Brooklyn, fueled only by some donuts and coffee, to compete in the Invitational Collegiate Overwatch Tournament at the New York Excelsior (NYXL) Shop and Local Area Network (LAN).
This is NJIT Esports club’s first time competing at NYXL as part of an official NJIT team. Owned by the New York Mets’ Chief Operating Officer Jeffrey Wilpon, New York Excelsior is an American professional Overwatch Esports team located in New York City. The NYXL Shop and LAN is a pop-up store located in Brooklyn from Nov. 16–Dec. 23. Aside from selling merchandise for its official Overwatch team, the location also makes use of its 36-computer gaming cafe to host high school and college gaming competitions, such as the one NJIT competed in this past weekend.
“We just love gaming and our community and obviously, as you know, we are a professional Overwatch team, so we are beginning to … cultivate our local fan base and really get the community excited and inspired,” said Ben Nichol, Head of Events and Business Development at NYXL, when asked about the inspiration for the pop-up store. “With regards to this specific build out, our inspiration was ‘Let’s do something really fun and cool for our fans during the off-season in the winter when it’s cold and there’s not a whole lot to do, let’s give them a cool, fun, safe, warm space to come hang out, play games, and just be a community.’”
At the event, New York University, Rutgers University, New York Institute of Technology, and NJIT competed in six multi-round matches to determine the grand final winner. NJIT’s team included Blake Easton (CS ‘22), Konrad Kropiewnicki (Accounting ‘20), Daniel Kim (Computer Science ‘20), Lasha Tavberidze (Computer Science ‘20), Nick Abadiotakis (Computer Engineering ‘20) and Jake Albert (Mechanical Engineering ‘21).
The gamers were accompanied by upcoming president of NJIT Esports Jirassaya Uttarapong (Computer Science ‘20), team coordinator Joo Yong Park (Computer Science ‘20), and head coach Peter Mullen (Business Information Systems ‘21).
The first match was a close competition between NYU and Rutgers, resulting in the win and advancement of Rutgers to the winner’s bracket. In the second match, NJIT beat NYIT, and was added to the winner’s bracket as well.
The two NJ teams faced off in the winner’s bracket, where NJIT was defeated by Rutgers and fell into the loser’s bracket. Following this, NYIT conquered NYU, forcing NYU into the loser’s bracket.
New Jersey prevailed again when NJIT defeated NYU, causing a rematch between Rutgers and NJIT for the grand finale. It was a very intense game, with even the casters marveling at the victor’s narrow win, but in the end Rutgers remained undefeated. However, the NJIT Overwatch team remains optimistic.
“The purpose of the upcoming NJIT Esports initiative is to support teams like the Overwatch one by providing team spirit with upcoming Esports jerseys and funding for attending and hosting tournaments,” said Blake Easton, a first-year Computer Science major and upcoming President of the Overwatch Division of NJIT Esports. “Plans for the future include hosting a collegiate event of our own, and hopefully getting a team practice room with computers to better prepare our teams.”
Reflecting on the event, the team is motivated to practice for the upcoming spring collegiate season. Although the Esports team was understandably disappointed by the close loss to Rutgers, there was generally good sportsmanship from all sides; the day ended in a joint Rutgers-NJIT dinner. Overall, it was a ‘good game, well-played’ (or ‘GG, WP’ in gaming lingo).