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Ready to Compete

Wesleyan College unveils new eSports arena

The Inter-Mountain photos by Amanda Hayes Thomas Flannery, of Charleston, demonstrates a game on the new high-end computers in the eSports’ team’s new arena.

BUCKHANNON — West Virginia Wesleyan College’s new eSports program now has an arena for the team to call home.

The arena doesn’t have turf, goal posts or a court. This arena is outfitted with high-end computers and all the tools necessary for the team to compete in eSports.

Coach Kevin Wu said the students have already been utilizing the new space located in the Administrative Annex Building.

“What we have here today is a facility designed specifically for the needs of our eSports athletes,” he said. “They compete on a bit of a different playing field. This is ours. What they need is very different.”

Eye-tracking software is something the new facility has that some of the students are already trying out. Thomas Flannery, of Charleston, said, “I had the privilege and the opportunity to see this space grow up from being nothing but drywall and concrete. I was recruited pretty heavily by Wesleyan to come here and help be a part of this program.

Coach Kevin Wu and members of West Virginia Wesleyan College’s first Bobcats eSports squad cut the ribbon to officially open the team’s arena in the Administrative Annex Building.

“I can’t explain how important this space was here,” he said. “If this wasn’t here, we would all be playing in our dorms.”

While the team had to do that at the beginning of the year, it wasn’t an ideal set-up, according to Flannery.

The new arena allows for software and tools that will aid the team, he added.

“Having that kind of software and having that space and the equipment around me to analyze games is really useful,” he said.

Billy Butcher, of Ellenboro, said he is a basketball player at heart.

“Being able to be in the same room as your teammates and being able to grow with each other and learn with each other instead of sitting in your room playing games by yourself is really good for us,” he said. “We will grow closer together as teammates and I think it will really help us in the long run.

“It’s really good to have Coach Wu in the corner,” he said. “If you have any questions he is right there to answer and some of your more experienced teammates as well. It’s really good having everybody in the same area. I think it’s a great experience to be able to be the first to offer eSports in West Virginia.”

The eSports squad also includes Abraham Blouir of Pennsboro; Brandon Cochran, of Given; Stanley Ciciora, of Lewisburg; Gabe Poling, of Moatsville, and Jacob Williamson, of Renick.

President Joel Thierstein said,” This is as Bob [Skinner, vice president of advancement] said a historic day for West Virginia Wesleyan College. We are delighted to be the first school in West Virginia to have eSports.”

The school announced the sport in fall 2018 with the hiring of Wu and welcomed seven players this year for its inaugural season.

“This is an amazing time,” Thierstein said. “Now we have arenas full of people watching two people compete in this sport. We are delighted again to be the first school in West Virginia to have eSports.”

The team competes in the National Association of Collegiate eSports-sanctioned leagues and in online collegiate circuits. Wesleyan now offers partial athletic and academic scholarships and as a varsity sport, follows all NCAA guidelines on training and practice sessions, according to a press release.