Midwestern colleges and universities are making waves in the college esports world. Teams like Northwood are winning Overwatch tournaments. Akron, Ohio State, and Mizzou are some of the best Rocket League teams in the land. And more and more programs are starting in the region. Minnesota State University is the next institution to throw its name into the esports hat. We got a chance to talk to Jacquie Lamm, the head esports coach for MSU, on what it’s been like starting a program post-COVID and how they plan to compete.
One of the biggest choices a school can make when it comes to a new program is what level of play can they expect. When it comes to a club or intramural esports, the university is more hands-off. However, Minnesota State decided to get all in and create a varsity program. With that comes access to more tournaments and dedicated staff. Coach Lamm said that she’s happy the school supported the idea of esports.
It’s been almost a two-year process now. I was a student there until this past May. I just graduated and I’ve been working with Minnesota State and the RSL club. So they’re basically our Esports clubs. And we’ve been talking with how we need a training facility, an actual varsity sports program because there are certain competitions that you can’t compete in unless you have a sanctioned varsity program. So there’s just a lot of conversations that happened right before COVID started in March. We were ready to get off the ground and submit our proposal and then COVID happened. And so we’ve been tracked a little bit. But I’m glad this past fall we were able to announce that we’re officially started. And the school’s backing everyone. It’s just it’s a great feeling.Jacquie Lamm on MSU’s Varsity Program Start
Lamm also said the MSU got tons of support from the existing clubs on campus. She says that the students are the biggest esports knowledge base creating a more holistic approach to the program.
Coach Lamm also said that the pandemic may have actually helped in selling the varsity concept to the MSU administration.
I think they might have been a little bit more open just because a lot of recreational activities are put on hold right now. Esports, you can literally just stay at home. You don’t have to go anywhere. There’s basically no travel unless you had finals. And even then it’s not guaranteed because it COVID. I think they were a little bit more interested in trying to get us off the ground.Jacquie Lamm on COVID & Esports
For the first year, MSU will play League of Legends and CS:GO to start out with more games if the students show interest. You can catch our full conversation with Coach Lamm below!