Peninsula College’s Esports team has been quietly taking on teams like Texas Tech, North Carolina State, and the University of Oregon since October, behind closed doors and away from the limelight. Now they’re inviting the community to experience competition with them.
Fans are welcome to watch Wednesday’s Rocket League match between PC and the University of Connecticut at 5:00 pm on March 11 in the Pirate Esports Arena (room M133). The game gets underway with introductions at 4:55 pm. Admission is free and light refreshments will be served. The match will also be live streamed at twitch.tv/peninsulacollege.
“We are very excited about this program and the potential it has to bring in esports athletes from all over the world,” said Rick Ross, associate dean for athletics and student life. “Head coach Charlie Morrow is killing it. She’s got three great teams who have taken their share of lumps this first year as we sorted out the technology and other challenges that go along with launching a new program, but they’re very positive, they’re having fun and they’re laying the groundwork for what we expect to be another outstanding and nationally-renowned athletic program.”
Peninsula College has teams competing in Rocket League, Overwatch and League of Legends.
Coach Morrow, a Port Angeles High School and Peninsula College graduate who has a master’s degree in Performance Psychology, is navigating the decentralized world of college esports, finding games through the Collegiate Star League (CSL), Tespa Overwatch Collegiate League and the Black Line Championship Series, as well as scrimmages she organizes on her own.
“This year has been spent weeding through the various circuits and events and deciding what will be most beneficial and rewarding for our teams,” Morrow said. “It’s required flexibility and patience from my players, but thankfully they’ve been understanding and have thoroughly enjoyed being part of the inaugural team.”
The Pirate Rocket League team trained fall quarter and entered the Black Line Championship Series this quarter. It features college and amateur teams from across the country. The Pirates finished 5-3 and secured a spot in the playoffs, which get under way the week of March 9.
“Our Rocket League team has been doing incredibly well,” she said. That team is made up of Nicholas Charters, Drew Eckard, Stuart Koehler, and Logan Beebe.
Team captain Charters, a Running Start student from Sequim High School, said he’s looking forward to Wednesday’s first public appearance.
“I’m excited to bring esports out to everybody on the Peninsula,” he said. “Hopefully this encourages people who play casually to take it more competitively.”
Charters, who started playing Rocket League at age 16, has 2,000 hours into the game.
“I joined (the PC program) to play the game more and to get better,” he said. He and his teammates will need to be at their best to beat UConn Wednesday. “Hopefully it’ll be competitive,” he said.
The Pirate League of Legends team wrapped up CSL play against what Morrow called “incredibly tough opponents” from the University of British Columbia, Seattle University and Simon Fraser University. Starting this month, they will participate in a junior college exhibition league called JuCo through May.
“They were not easy matches, but our team grew so much and learned a great deal about communication and team synergy,” Morrow said. Her League team includes Atticus Wickert (captain, mid lane), Lucas Salvador (jungler), Marshall Matlock (top lane), and Trevor Jones (ADC, bottom lane). Finally, the PC Overwatch team had a similar pathway facing big-time opponents, including Texas Tech, Indiana State and North Carolina State. The Tespa Overwatch League had scheduling challenges and Peninsula had to drop from that competition.
“For now, my plan for our Overwatch team is to focus on fundamentals, such as communication, positioning and team synergy,” Morrow said. “We will most likely play in a couple of one-day tournaments in the spring.”
The Pirate Overwatch team consists of Ashley Frantz (captain, support), Katelyn Simmons (support), Cameron Fouts (DPS), Atticus Wickert (DPS), Damien Cundiff (Tank), and Mike Roggenbuck (Tank).
Coach Morrow is now on the recruiting trail, with scholarships to offer esports athletes from anywhere in the world.
“For the future of PC Esports, I want to see our teams have a place both in collegiate esports in a broad sense, but also be a staple in our local community,” Morrow said. “Much like our soccer and basketball teams, I want our esports players to feel welcome in our community and participate in a variety of activities such as volunteering, clinics, etc. On the competition side, we hope to find a home in the National Junior College Athletic Association's Esports circuit (NJCAAE).”
NJCAAE launched last fall and is committed to providing structure and organization for community college esports programs, Morrow said.
“We hope to recruit the best players in the Pacific Northwest and prepare them for collegiate competition,” she said.
In addition to the three teams the College currently supports, Pirate Esports plans to add Super Smash Brothers in 2020-21.
For more information, contact Charlie Morrow at email@example.com.
Photo L-R: Nicholas Charters, Logan Beebe, Stuart Koehler, Drew Eckard. Coach Charlie Morrow looking over their shoulders.
Photo credit Rick Ross