Trojans esports showcase brings competitive gaming to SAIT

Move over traditional collegiate sports - make way for esports in the post-secondary ranks

Hunter "Sniper" Gouin competes in the SAIT Trojans FIFA 21 event. SCREENSHOT

The SAIT Trojans have partnered with the Alberta Esports Association (AESA) to bring you the Trojan eSports Showcase Series.

The event lanched with the group stages from March 16-25, with the finals this weekend.

This is an introductory event to showcase competitors in games such as Rocket League, FIFA 21, NBA 21, and Madden NFL 21.

“I think we are at a tipping point with post-secondary esports in Calgary,” said Bob Murray, associate director of athletics for the SAIT Trojans.

“I expect as 2021 unfolds we will see significant strides in the advancement of post-secondary esports.”

When asked about the partnership with AESA, Murray said that it was due to the closure of SAIT’s campus and losing access to the Trojan’s production facilities.

“We chose to use an industry provider,” said Murray.

“AESA had worked with the ACAC [Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference] in a tournament last year, so we knew of them.

Grassroots community

While there are pockets of esports startups in other provinces, the Alberta Esports Association is the first of its kind here.

“One of our goals is to make collegiate esports a thing,” said Alex “Nullex” Schafer. He’s the event operations executive for AESA.

“Before we existed, a lot of colleges and universities had student clubs that would run events. AESA now has them as members.”

According to Schafer, the choice of games, notably sports titles, was to bridge the gap between traditional athletics and esports.

“We have had a lot of crossover between people who are in the normal athletics program and have entered this event as well.”

However, the event was not without it’s mishaps.

Spotty attendance

For the FIFA 21 group stage, over half of the participants did not show up. That resulted in the remaining four players immediately qualifying for this weekend’s finals.

For Hunter “Sniper” Gouin, a competitor representing Lincoln Land Community College in Springfield, Illinois, this meant waiting for nearly an hour while the event coordinators scrambled to restructure the event.

“I feel really bad for them. They set up this whole tournament, put prizes on the line and then people just don’t show up,” said Gouin.

“They were put in a tough situation but they made the most of it.”

Schafer attributes the amount of people not showing up to their matches to the online nature of the event.

“It’s extremely hard to both remember and be accountable as a participant,” said Schafer.

This is in contrast to a “LAN” or in-person event.

Alongside partnering with SAIT, AESA has also partnered with the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) as well as more recently partnering with the Edmonton Public Schools Esports.

The finals will be held this weekend on the 27 and 28, and can be watched live on the official AESA Twitch channel at 12 p.m. MST.

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