Utica College accepted an invitation to join the East Coast Conference eSports division this past Tuesday. Marking the Pioneers as the 14th member of ECC eSports and seventh associate member.

Utica eSports began in 2019 from the college’s Cybersecurity Club, and quickly became one of the most popular student organizations. Leading to the expansion of eSports involvement from the college administration in following years.

“This news is a credit to the members of the Esports Club, who took the initiative and helped us understand the benefits of adding this fast-growing sport to our institution,” said Jeffery Gates, Utica College Senior Vice President for Student Life and Enrollment. “It’s an inclusive sport that will attract a new generation of students and bolster our recruitment and retention efforts.”

Utica College’s New Esports Facility

In addition to joining the ECC, Utica College President Laura Casamento announced the college will be building a “state-of-the-art” eSports center on campus. This includes dozens of computer setups, a main stage for future competitions, as well as spectator and announcer seating for those wanting to view in person.

“Because of the pandemic and some equipment issues members deal with, we’ve never been able to play together as a team in the same physical space before,” said Jared Best, Webmaster and Founder of the college’s eSports club. “Being able to high-five your teammate in person will definitely solidify that team aspect, the same way it does in traditional sports.”

ECC eSports is currently in its fourth season during this academic year, offering championships this semester for Valorant, Rocket League, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Overwatch and League of Legends.

“We are pleased to bring Utica College on board as a new member of ECC Esports,” said ECC Commissioner Dr. Robert Dranoff. “Utica is an excellent, innovative institution and we have no doubt that they will develop their new program quickly.”

By Carter Barnes