Looking Ahead: The Future of PNW Esports

Esports has come a long way since PNW became Indiana’s first public university to organize a team in 2020.

It got started with 11 team members. During the 2021-22 school year, it became PNW’s first coed athletic team. Today, it has 60 players.

Two of them are twin sophomores Mihajlo and Vladimir already looking forward to the fall season.

“During the summer, our team will expand and create two teams, so our practice sessions may involve others, but our main focus will be on our own self-improvement since the team composition will change,” said Mihajlo. 

Vladimir said he and his brother will sharpen their skills through repetition.

“We practice by doing scrimmages,” he said. “Scrimmages consist of us going against other teams on different maps testing different tactics and scenarios.” 

The pair have proved to be valuable. Of nine million gamers ranked in North America Mihajlo placed 125 and Vladimir placed in the top 5000. Some of the team’s successes include placing second in the Gaming Fanfest at PNW and in three additional online tournaments. 

It takes a specific set of skills when it comes to online gaming. 

Teammate Alex Avery, a senior, explains that “Fast reaction time, critical thinking, good mechanics, and being able to multitask are necessary skills.” 

 “Communication is the most important in my opinion because not being able to communicate effectively causes the flow to change no matter what,” said Vladimir. “It will feel like a roadblock that can’t be crossed.” 

The three gamers are looking forward to what the upcoming season will bring.

“We are getting two new teammates that got signed during the summer last year,” said Vladimir. “I’m really hyped about what they bring to the table.” 

While Avery adds, “I’m looking forward to seeing everyone’s progress.” 

The popularity of Esports helped it become a collegiate sport, though a notably untraditional one.

“Though traditional sports have been around significantly longer than esports, they are both similar, each featuring different leagues, multiple teams and dedicated fanbases,” said Mihajlo. “Traditional sports require all players to be physically present on the same field or court. Esports, on the other hand, allows players to compete from all over the world via the internet.” 

Avery acknowledge the differences. 

“We need good hand-eye coordination or wrist movement. Sure, it isn’t as extreme as being able to run a mile under 6 minutes, but it does have a significant impact in our respected sports,” he said. “Esports is great for those who are competitive, but don’t have the means to be very physical outside the game.”

Though the team and league are still relatively new at PNW, the members have made bonds that will last a lifetime. 

“​​We practice 12 to 15 hours a week with one another. These guys are practically family,” said Vladimir. “We all have our ups and down and we always lift each other back up.” 

That is why the players are close. 

 “This team is special because we have been playing for two semesters now, and I feel like I got a lot closer to the team,” said Avery. “Even if we aren’t on the same team next semester, they will still be friends of mine.”