Joel Majano

Cannon Writer

Esports are a rapidly growing segment in the entertainment industry as game developers begin to realize what games suited for viewing experiences can bring to the table. In recent years, the most popular eSport title by far has been League of Legends. Resultantly, it is no surprise why this game’s U of T Discord community (UTLA) is the most popular out of all the gaming communities offered by U of T eSports (UTES). Competitively, U of T has had great success in League of Legends, but it also has had success in other eSports such as Overwatch, where they represented U of T at local events in the United States. Having this exposure helps more students become aware that these communities exist, which helps keep U of T’s teams competitive every academic year. However, as expected, interest within the competitive scene eventually dies down as older students graduate, while new students are unfamiliar with U of T eSports.

Let’s take a step back and look at how U of T approaches eSports by doing a quick Google search using the term “u of t esports”. The results include a select number of UTES links such as the Discord (https://discord.gg/uoftesports), and a couple UTM and UTSC links, but no search results from UTSG. Although a significant number of individuals more closely identify with their specific U of T campus, this comes at the cost of diluting potential eSports members into different communities, putting U of T at a disadvantage in comparison to other universities in the context of eSports. I believe that having a single general eSports organization that all U of T members can join would be optimal, as this would result in the reach of the eSports community being as large as possible.

As a university however, U of T pales in eSports compared to many others. Since the topic of eSports is not directly academic, there is very little interest in trying to bring it more into the spotlight. If you search the term ‘esports’ on utoronto.ca you will find a single article titled “Gaming champs apply here: U of T alumnus funds scholarship for engineering undergrads who excel at eSports”. This article dates back to 2017, and is the sole mention of eSports found on U of T’s official website. The reality is that eSports are increasing in popularity, with more people trying out games during the pandemic. If we do a quick comparison to other universities’ eSports Discord communities, there is a lot more polish in those of Waterloo and Carleton, for example. This is simply a byproduct of having more individuals that are willing to put in the effort to make their community the best that it can be.

This is why I want to bring eSports to the attention of The Cannon readers – spreading the word about UTES to others who might not know about it is an excellent way to expand its reach. Many different gaming communities within UTES, such as Minecraft, Valorant, and League of Legends host their own events, so there is bound to be something for everyone. If you do join the UTES Discord, feel free to leave some feedback, as it could help make the UTES Discord feel more welcoming. At the moment, it feels empty and no one uses it other than as a “hub” to get to the other communities within UTES. I wish that one day this server would become more loved, but that requires enough activity to motivate the executive team to put in the work required to achieve this goal. I hope that reading this has helped to get a better understanding of what U of T eSports are like, and hopefully more students will decide to check it out.

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