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OHIO Esports Arena hosts high school esports regional tournament with the help of Bobcat student involvement

Gaming is more than the niche hobby it once was. While many still game casually, for others, gaming has grown into a competitive sport. In the state of Ohio, around 300 high schools now have a North America Scholastic Esports Federation-affiliated esports team. Ohio University recently hosted 20 of these schools at the Esports Ohio Central-Southeast Regional Tournament in the OHIO Esports Arena.

The tournament took place all day Saturday, March 16, and Sunday, March 17, 2024, with more than 150 high school students competing in popular games like Fortnite, Overwatch, Rocket League, Smash and Valorant. The event was the first of its kind to take place on Ohio University’s campus, thanks to a combination of student initiative, OHIO staff volunteers and the state-of-the-art Esports Arena located in the bottom of Scripps Hall. 

OHIO students involved with the 850-member Bobcat Esports Club worked with multiple departments to organize the tournament, coordinate logistics and broadcast each competition for livestreaming. Director of OHIO Esports Dr. Jeff Kuhn said the event served the community, brought people to the University and most importantly allowed everyone to have fun.

Students involved echoed Kuhn’s words but were additionally inspired by other high school sports tournaments OHIO has recently hosted, like the basketball districts and regionals held at the convocation center.

“We are part of a well-run program, a good team of skilled individuals with great student involvement and hosting this tournament allowed us to prove it,” said Blake Gall, a senior computer science major and OHIO Esports broadcast coordinator. “Everyone was excited to come to Athens, Ohio, and compete at a venue like this.”

High school students compete at the Esports Ohio Central-Southeast Regional Tournament in OHIO's Esports Arena.
High school students compete at the Esports Ohio Central-Southeast Regional Tournament in OHIO's Esports Arena.


Experiential Learning

Preparation for the tournament was no small task. OHIO students applied their knowledge of project management and technology to make sure the event ran smoothly. They tested the network so it was ready for hours of gameplay, made sure games were installed and up to date, cleaned equipment and coordinated food and parking. Hosting such a large event provided the team with valuable experience.

Junior Communications and Media Studies student and Bobcat Esports Club President Liam McCamish felt his work with the tournament will be valuable for his career beyond graduation.

“I think potential employers will see the work we put in to host an event like this,” said McCamish. “This is industry experience relevant to esports that I can put on a resume, which is critical for me.”

Esports students also handled all broadcasting and livestreaming of the Central-Southeast Regionals. Students like Gall and McCamish are used to broadcasting OHIO’s Mid-American Conference Esports Collegiate team but eagerly accepted the challenge of streaming a larger event with far more matches.

OHIO Esports students broadcast the Central-Southeast Regionals.
OHIO Esports students broadcast the Central-Southeast Regionals.

Meanwhile, the highschoolers were introduced to the many esports opportunities available at Ohio University through hands-on learning. High school students were paired with Bobcats to learn esports broadcasting basics and observe how broadcasting and livestreaming such a large tournament functions.

With the success of this year’s tournament, the OHIO Esports Arena is sure to see more use as a public venue in the future including hosting the Esports Ohio Central-Southeast Regional Tournament which will likely become a permanent fixture for experiential learning in the esports field.

“Students from Scripps, the College of Business, Engineering, Arts and Sciences and Patton College all pulled together to make this happen,” said Kuhn. “Events like these show the value of the interdisciplinary approach OHIO has to experiential learning. Over the weekend I heard organizers, parents and competitors laud our students – how welcoming, how friendly, and how professional they all were; so proud of the work they did.”


Other Esports and Gaming Opportunities at OHIO

  • The Esports Arena in Scripps Hall not only hosts tournaments but is a resource available for all students, faculty and staff to enjoy.
  • Bobcat Esports club is OHIO’s primary organization for students interested in esports and provides opportunities for all skill levels.
  • The OHIO Esports team competes in the Mid-American Conference Esports Collegiate.
  • OHIO’s esports certificate allows students to explore the industry and add an academic credential with a focus on game design, information technology or business.
  • The OHIO Eastern Esports Center is another competition space, and the first on a regional campus, dedicated to the growing industry of esports; the OHIO community is currently working to increase the presence of esports on additional regional campuses as well.
March 20, 2024
Alex Semancik