Ole Miss Esports Team Uses Quarantine as Prime Practice Time

By Luke Little
Hottytoddy.com intern
lblittle@go.olemiss.edu

For most sports teams in Oxford, the ‘social distancing’ rule essentially rules out any type of practice the group can forgo, postponing months of training and team-building. However, one local team continues to perfect its craft during the quarantine – the Ole Miss Esports team.

The Esports team as a whole is broken up into multiple smaller groups known as competitive teams, which differ from the preferred game (or games, in some cases) of choice of the players.

Cray Pennison, of the Ole Miss Esports Smash Bros. team, Noel Wilkin, provost and executive vice chancellor, and Jason DeShong, president of Mississippi State University Esports, speak at a press conference to announce the Esports Egg Bowl for Saturday, Oct. 13. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Service

While some teams are used to operating on an online-only basis, others are feeling the repercussions of a lack of in-person play. Games such as Super Smash Bros. and other fighting games are deemed nearly unplayable competitively without that aspect.

“In order to be competitive with Smash, you have to play on the same console next to
the other player to have zero lag,” said Cray Pennison of the Smash Bros. team. “Online tourneys happen, but the online for Smash is spotty at best, sadly.”

The Smash Bros. team was supposed to travel to five events in the second half of the semester that have all now been cancelled.

Many members of the teams have been using the extra free time to hone their fundamental skills, mastering the in-game mechanics and movement.

“I personally have more time to play, but not being able to play as a team often is
hurting a lot,” said Wilson Angle, captain of the Rainbow Six: Seige team. “I’m just trying to work on my aim as much as I can in place of our lack of team practice.”

Despite setbacks of online coursework and sporadic internet connections, the team as a whole continues to persevere through these tough times.

Ole Miss Esports President Sergio Brack said that the teams are required to hold at least two practices a week, with some even practicing daily in preparation for their own upcoming online tournament, LANShark.

The tournament had originally been planned to be a large in-person event hosted at the Jackson Avenue Center, but it was forced to transition to be completely online due to COVID-19.

“We invited numerous collegiate esports programs from the Southeast, as well as all around the country,” said Christiane Tristan, secretary for the team. ”We had planned to have two full days of competition, and had prize pools associated with each game that was participating.”

Tristan says that the online version of LANShark 2020 will be as identical to the
in-person tournament as possible, prizes and all. The event is set to be streamed on their Twitch.com channel this upcoming weekend, April 18-19. Follow this link to catch the action: www.twitch.tv/olemissesports.


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