While Alfred State College’s Esports team may have been an underdog heading into the Empire State Winter Games Esports Tournament, it ended up coming away as the top dog after earning a first-place finish.
Held in the Adirondacks, the 2020 Empire State Winter Games brought together athletes from across New York State and beyond to compete in more than 30 winter sports events. Among those was an invitation-only Esports tournament that took place at Paul Smith’s College, which featured teams from within the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC).
Competing in the game “Overwatch,” Alfred State defeated several colleges to get to the final four, including Louisiana Tech University, Stockton, and Johnson & Wales University Providence Campus. After defeating Saint Peter’s University, it was onto the finals to face the University of Albany.
Following a hard-fought battle, Alfred State emerged victorious 3-1 and handed the University of Albany team its first match loss since its formation. The Alfred State Esports team received gold medals for each of the players and a $2,000 grand prize.
Austin Clay, coach of the Overwatch team and club president, said his team performed even better than he could have imagined. He noted that while many people may have viewed Alfred State as the underdog, the team “showed everyone that, even though we are a club, we can still play and beat the big dogs.”
“Our team did not just win the finals,” said Clay, a digital media and animation major from Kendall. “We showed everyone that we are one of the top teams in the ECAC and that we deserve to be respected just like all the other great teams.”
Clay added that his team’s players “were popping off and were on fire the whole weekend,” particularly Katelynn Cary, information technology: network administration, Barton, and Stephen Gonzalez, digital media and animation, Bay Shore.
“It was amazing to watch my team move as one and think like one,” Clay said. “The teamwork and coordination from the players are what carried us to victory.”
Applications software development major Magnus Roberto, of Bloomingburg, who is captain of the Overwatch team and vice president of Competition, said, "I think we all played really well, especially our tanks, Keagan Gerber and Carson Gage, who just this past week started playing the character D.Va in preparation for this tournament. While UAlbany may have been quite a bit mechanically better than us, our communication and teamwork were quite a bit better, which is the only reason we had a chance. Additionally, our ability to swap one member of the support line and thus enable entirely new strategies seemed to throw off our opponents and made our counterplay easier. I was beyond excited to be able to experience such a great match for the finals of the Empire State Winter Games. The entire tournament and associated ceremony were so much fun and winning just made it that much sweeter."
The Esports team, Clay said, could not have gotten as far as it has without the college’s assistance, particularly in suppling an Esports practice room and equipment.
“Also, without Donald Schrader, the club adviser, driving up the second van with the players, we could not have made it to Paul Smith’s College,” Clay said.
Alfred State Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs Spencer Peavey said, “I’m so proud of our Esports team. They have put in a lot of work over the past year to compete at the highest level of collegiate Esports and this win acknowledges their commitment to that.”
Peavey noted that Alfred State Esports continues to grow in membership and in outreach.
“Feb. 1 marked one year that we have had a formal Esports program, and in that time we’ve grown our membership from 15 members to 200,” Peavey said. “We now serve as a resource to our community, adopting the Esport development and support of local high schools as a philanthropy. We’ve also been asked to present as experts to school systems and administrations.”