Kent State students make Overwatch Association more competitive

Zachary Blanner

Kent State’s Overwatch Association (OWA) takes stronger steps towards a more competitive environment with the rise of eSports at the collegiate level.

The OWA was founded during the beginning of the Fall 2016 semester by students Logan Kyle and Jake Summers. The club originally met in person where students would bring their consoles or gaming PCs to the meetings and play “Overwatch.”

Current co-presidents Alexandria Huart and Colin Armstrong have changed a lot of things since they took over, like getting rid of physical meetings.

“It was a little harder for people to meet that way because bringing an entire desktop was a little difficult and it didn’t get a lot of traction I think because of that,” Huart said.

Now all OWA meetings are conducted online through an application called discord. Discord is a free online voice and text communication service for gamers to organize communities and communicate to one another.

The club meeting online allows for more flexibility in members schedules and for them to be able to communicate with each other any time of day.   

Another aspect that was changed was more of a focus on the competitive side of “Overwatch.” While players can still play casually or for fun, the new presidents have been making a stronger effort for members who are a little more serious about the game.

One of these efforts was the incorporation of an official “Overwatch” varsity team for the association. The OWA held tryouts where they looked at 18 interested members. They then narrowed it down to nine.

While the OWA tried to bring in a more hardcore audience with the implementation of a varsity team, there is a larger end goal for Armstrong.

“The competitive push has mainly been my drive to be able to get us involved with Tespa,” Armstrong said.

Tespa acts as an event support network for college gaming organizations. It has an official partnership with Blizzard Entertainment with which it has hosted online leagues for various games. One of them being “Overwatch.”

Tespa’s most well-known endeavor is Heroes of the Dorm, a $450,000 collegiate championship for Blizzard’s game “Heroes of the Storm,” which was the first eSports event broadcasted on national television.

However, much of Tespa’s work is done in the fall so it will not be until next semester when the OWA will have a more solid plan moving forward.

Since the club is primarily online, anyone can join whether they are a Kent student or not. However, members must be Kent students to participate in the varsity team or in any events or tournaments OWA has.

There are currently around 50 members in OWA. About 35 of them are Kent students.

Moving forward Huart and Armstrong’s hopes are to build more connections with other clubs on campus and start hosting streaming events that can raise money for charity.

“Our main purgative is to make sure that people have a good time and are able to make new friends. That’s always going to be our number one priority,” said Armstrong.

Overwatch is an online, team based, first-person shooter game developed and published by Blizzard Entertainment. The game is made up of two teams of six players each that fight for control over a point on the map.

Zachary Blanner is a technology reporter. Contact him at [email protected].