I was lucky enough to assemble some of the ridiculous and talented members of the University of Connecticut’s Collegiate Star League Counter-Strike: Global Offensive team as well as the team’s manager. Somewhere in between the joking, teasing, and fits of laughter, I managed to sneak a few questions in and get some insight on the UConn Gaming Club as well as their collegiate CS:GO team.
The majority of the CS:GO team met through the UConn Gaming Club. Robert “Snippz” Silverman or “De_Captain” of the CS:GO team believes that a gaming club is an asset because it opens up opportunities for students to connect with other individuals who share the same interests as they do.
Shang-Yeon “AceTheShibaInu” Han has “been into gaming most of [his] life… [he] saw a group of guys with esports jerseys on representing UConn and [he] was like ‘I want to be a part of that.'” Through the community that the UConn Gaming Club has to offer, AceTheShibaInu has joined multiple competitive collegiate esports teams.
All of the players agreed that the community the club offers is a critical part of the club’s allure. AceTheShibaInu said that “it’s nice to have a lot of people who want to play,” and that he “love[s] the community, [he’s] never been part of a gaming community. [He] was mainly a solo queuer or a casual gamer, but [he feels that] being recognized by other people is really nice.” AceTheShibaInu’s feelings towards the club are similar to that of Son “True Immortal” Nguyen, another player on the CS:GO team. The UConn Gaming Club offered True Immortal the opportunity to find “more people to play with and it helped [him] make more friends in the game that [he] plays.” True Immortal continued, saying that “[the club is] actually really nice and it motivates me to get better,” then Snippz interjected: being in the club helps players “show off!” AceTheShibaInu believes that the community aspect of the club benefits the members inside the game as well as outside: “as an individual, the community made me want to get better… If I didn’t have other people interested in what I am doing, I wouldn’t be playing as much as I am right now or have been [since I joined].”
The benefits of being involved in an esports club are not limited to members who want to play games at a high level, Dan “DanLeeFor3” Lee is the “manager, per say,” of the CS:GO team and “oversee[s] everything for all of [Uconn’s] esports teams.” The existence of the UConn Gaming Club allowed for DanLeeFor3 to be involved in esports outside of actually playing competitively. DanLeeFor3 helps by “setting up scrims and making sure people are on practice schedules” to which Snippz chimed in that “[the team] needs help with daily.”
“When you are playing and representing your university, you want to represent them in a good light.” – Robert “Snippz” Silverman
Ideally, DanLeeFor3 would like to see the club grow so he can afford coaches who can help the players with aspects outside of their game as well as within. He wants to be able to ensure UConn’s players are sleeping and dieting in a healthy manner. In the future, DanLeeFor3 wants to do what he does for the Uconn esports club on a much larger scale, but for now, the UConn Gaming Club seems to be a great start.
Apart from managing the esports teams, DanLeeFor3 is the president of the UConn Gaming Club. The club’s partnered Twitch.tv stream broadcasts Uconn gaming content, such as the UConn CS:GO team’s CSL matches, on occasion. Along with events, the Uconn Gaming Club also hosts tournaments which boast prizes from the club’s sponsors for the players who do the best. The club meetings have “upwards of 120″ members showing up on the most popular days and offer the members an opportunity to hang out in person, rather than online, says DanLeefor3, and the club has “a lot of people who are on two or three different teams.”
The size of the club is an important aspect because of how it affects the clubs funding and resource allocation. As the club grows, DanLeeFor3 wants to look into scholarships, private playing spaces, and many other aspects which will help his members enjoy their time with the club. Snippz added, in regards to the importance of a club’s size, “the roster is never set: people will drop-out, people will move on, people will graduate, and it’s just one of those interesting things because pretty much every year for any collegiate organization is a rebuilding year.” Having a gaming club helps smooth the transition that occurs when students leave the university and the existence of a gaming club also opens up opportunities for the students. Snippz continues: the team is “not recognized by the university but the club is… and I think it’s kinda nice being able to have a university-recognized group being able to support [the team].” DanLeeFor3 hopes to have the esports teams recognized by the university and become varsity teams in the future.
Some of the many benefits of being part of an esports club, like the UConn Gaming Club, are not as direct or material as others. Playing in a competitive collegiate league has made AceTheShibaInu more considerate towards others because he is a “very loud and emotional guy when [he is] playing games… [and] a lot of players couldn’t handle it or deal with [him]… [he’s] trying to be a nicer guy overall” because of his experiences in the club and in competitive gaming.
Outside of the club and inside of the collegiate CS:GO teams’ games, the atmosphere of fun does not dissipate. DanLeeFor3 says that everyone on the team is “close friends” and AceTheShibaInu adds that “you wouldn’t know we are in a competitive match if you were in comms with us” because of all of Snippz “playful banter” and the rest of the team’s light-hearted and ridiculous teasing of each other. The team unanimously believes their playful atmosphere is a critical aspect of their ability to play together. During matches, AceTheShibaInu “feel[s] like [he] is the only one taking the game seriously,” to which Snippz burst out laughing, “and he’s the sub!… we’ll be cracking up between rounds thinking that we should be taking the matches more seriously.”
Overall, the UConn collegiate CS:GO team utilizes an enjoyable atmosphere in their games to keep them focused. Outside of the game, the UConn Gaming Club, ran by a determined president, offers the players a place to extend their light-hearted atmosphere into the real world and share it with their peers. True Immortal’s final thoughts on all that was discussed in the interview: “I love our team.”