The Wolfpack Says “Game On”, On its Way to the Esports Playoffs

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SCREENSHOT FROM ATHLETIC DEPARTMENT VIDEO

Madison College Esports coach Joe Hanson answers questions during an interview posted on the WolfPack Athletics website.

Cole Downing , Contributor

More than halfway through a playoff hopeful inaugural Esports season, Madison College’s athletic department officially started rolling out plans for its upcoming 2021 Spring semester on Nov.19, with an email and a survey.

The college sent out an email to its student body looking to gauge interest in a variety of video games available to the college for competing in the NJCAAE next semester. This will be the college’s second ever semester with an official Esports team, after initially offering them at the start of this semester through intramurals. The upcoming season will provide a prime opportunity for better play, organization, coordination, and expansion in all dimensions. So, with the pandemic still ongoing, the only Wolfpack team actually competing virtually is starting to create excitement for the college.

“…interest in Esports, all kind of started when the college held the high school Esports championship. I knew that they would draw some interest, but I didn’t have any understanding of how much interest it would draw…” Said the college’s current Esports head coach, Joe Hanson, on how Esports began at MC.

Joe Hanson, a current tech services teacher at Madison College, was named on Sept. 18 as the team’s first ever head coach. In an interview with Adam Eichstedt on Nov. 12, Hanson provided a lot of detail on how professional Esports came to be at Madison College, what they’ve done so far this year, and an update to next semester’s plans for the team.

“I don’t want to jinx it at all, but I will say I would be surprised if we didn’t at least make the playoffs in at least one of the titles we’re playing this semester,” Hanson said in response to the rookie success of his team.

The NJCAAE isn’t much older than the college’s team for it either. Founded in only 2019, the NJCAA extension is the only national Esports association exclusively for two-year colleges in America. However, Hanson noted the intense difficulty has still been there for the Wolfpack since the beginning, against many pre-established teams with returning players.

No matter this season’s outcome, Hanson said everyone is enjoying the experience and are looking ahead with pride. For new and returning players, the upcoming collegiate gaming season also bodes new and returning game options. Hanson said all of this semester’s games (Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Rocket League, Overwatch, and Madden 21) will be returning, alongside the additions of the latest FIFA, NBA 2K, and some more combat oriented games as well.

Becoming a team member requires an official process through the college, involving a series of paperwork. So, interested students can join or follow the Wolfpack’s emerging Esports team through the college website, the Madison College athletics website, school emails, YouTube, Twitch, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

Hanson said the other big goals for the immediate future are higher recruitment, better equipment, and better viewing opportunities for fans. The number of team members is likely to grow quickly, as coordination and attention increases. Plus, it became glaringly apparent to the team that poor internet connections cause major difficulties in need of addressing as well.

“It’s all going to depend on where we are with the pandemic, but conversations have begun on both the tech services side and athletics side on how and where exactly this team is going to be housed in the near future,” Hanson finished saying concerning another priority, official housing space. Or, as it’s called in the professional gaming world, an “arena.”

For those interested, here is the link to Eichstedt’s full interview with Coach Hanson. Located on the Madison College athletics department’s homepage: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cuaE5U2gWnA&feature=youtu.be https://madisoncollegeathletics.com/