(Photo courtesy of RocketLeague.com)
This year, the UMass Lowell campus recreation department has launched an esports program for UMass students to participate in. This esports cup is based on a similar league that the Department of Campus Recreation has offered the past few years.
Lowell’s own Joseph Pitti and Justin Lawler are excited about how popular the program has been in its first year. Both Pitti and Lawler created the cup and help run the logistics of it. About 125 students joined the program last fall, showing that this is something that students want and something that could become bigger in the UMass Lowell community.
Some of the games that contribute to the program’s rankings are “Madden 21,” “Mario Kart,” “Rocket League,” and “Call of Duty.” As of now, “Rocket League” seems to be the most popular title in the tournament. Cross-console play is also allowed to help with the flexibility of the cup.
Participation and successful game performance determine a player’s place in the program. At the end of the year, the highest ranked player wins a combination of UMass Lowell merchandise and an Amazon gift card.
The point system allots 50 points to players for joining a league; the first-place player in a given game receives 20 points, second place receives 15 points, third place receives 10 points, and fourth place receives 5 points. A player is allowed to participate in multiple game leagues, which gives them a better chance of racking up more points.
To join the competition, players must visit uml.edu/esports where they can find a step-by-step process for registering. Games are usually scheduled for a predetermined day, but the league is lenient on players who cannot make a specific date. The rule-of-thumb is that a game must be finished before the next scheduled game. There is also a Discord server for players to share their experiences with the cup.
When asked about the inspiration behind creating the Esports Cup, Pitti said, “We had actually been discussing esports prior to the pandemic as new way to connect our students. It was clearly a space that we hadn’t tapped yet that we believed would resonate with our students.
“Once we realized that we weren’t able to safely offer in-person activities in the fall, this seemed like a no brainer. So much of what we do as a department is to bring students together, and this is just another way for us to do that.”
“We’re intentionally offering some cross-platform titles so leagues fill up and we can expose more students to our leagues in hopes that they’ll compete and connect virtually in a way that’s not just Zoom or FaceTime,” Pitti said.
Pitti and Lawler are constantly looking for student feedback to improve the dynamics of the program. They are also hoping that the program continues to grow and continues to bring UMass Lowell students together in a year that has been somewhat isolating. Pitti and Lawler are gamers themselves, and they were able to turn their hobby into something that allows UMass students to connect virtually.