OHIO Esports ready to kick off in a new arena

Ohio University video game players and fans can enjoy a new space this fall. The OHIO Esports Arena officially opens on Monday, September 12.

Located in Scripps Hall 001, the new facility will house the Bobcat Esports Club, as well as the OHIO Esports College team that competes in the Mid-American Conference (MAC) Esports Collegiate.

The Bobcat Esports Club has been very popular on campus for the past few years, with the launch of the MAC Esports Collegiate Conference in 2020. The Bobcat Esports Club has approximately 500 active members. There is also a Discord group, an online chat platform, which has over 1,000 members combining prospective students, current students, alumni, faculty, and staff.

Prior to the opening of the arena, the club was lining up members to play for varsity teams in the MAC Esports Collegiate Conference. Now, in case of competition, the team can play together in the same space thanks to updated technology.

The decision was made to start from scratch this college year and create the OHIO Esports team to give everyone a fair chance at success.

“We’re restarting everything this year, anyone can try out and get a spot on the team,” said Jeff Kuhn, Ph.D., director of esports. “I think the arena is a great representation of student demand and the love they have for esports and video games. At the end of the day, whatever the students want to do is c “It’s putting on an OHIO jersey and playing for their school. It’s a chance for these students to show their Bobcat pride for what they excel at.”

Three students use the computers at the new OHIO Esports Arena
With over 500 members, the Bobcat Esports Club is one of the largest esports clubs in the state of Ohio. Photo Credit: Dylan Benedict/Ohio University

OHIO participates in four games: Rocket League, Valorant, League of Legends and Overwatch. Rocket League consists of three members and an alternate, while the rest consists of a team of five and an alternate.

Tryouts for Rocket League and Valorant teams took place on August 27 and 28 in the new arena, and tryouts for other games will take place throughout the college year.

The arena has its own broadcast station with an announcers office and a production and editing room to allow live streams on Twitch. There will also be auditions for student broadcasters this fall.

Although the arena is a space for experiential learning and dedicated competition, all OHIO students are welcome to use the area, whether they are a casual gamer or a serious gamer.

“When students hear about esports, they often think of the competitive side, but we’re also trying to show that students can also play video games and hang out with friends,” Kuhn said. “If you like music, books or theatre, there are places to go on campus. If you like games, here is a social place for you.

By having a designated place to socialize, connect, play and learn, the esports program is poised to continue to grow. There are already plans in the work to involve OHIO regional campuses.

Students use computers in the new OHIO Esports Arena
OHIO offers esports-related degrees, certificates, and internships, ranging from programs at the J. Warren McClure School of Emerging Communication Technologies to the College of Business. Photo Credit: Dylan Benedict/Ohio University

“We hope to install a few computers on the regional campuses. We currently have members at the Lancaster and Zanesville campuses,” Kuhn said. “With esports, there is no male or female team, there is no need to be physically present, there is just the team. Anyone can play in the team if you train and try.

By providing access to computers and technology, the esports community here at OHIO has open arms for anyone who loves gaming.

Members of the OHIO community interested in learning more about the new arena and the rise of the esports industry can tune into the Ask the Experts live stream next Thursday, September 8.

Students can keep up to date with esports at OHIO at www.ohio.edu/esports.

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