The University of Central Florida (UCF) is quickly making a name for itself in one of the fastest growing competitive sports globally, esports. The Gaming Knights, the newest sport club at the UCF Recreation and Wellness Center, is fresh off a regional title at the Collegiate Rocket League Southern Conference. The Knights finished 14-2 during the tournament and have advanced to the Final Four National Championships in Minneapolis, Minnesota, next month.
Rocket League is a video game where competitors play soccer with cars. There are three players on a team. The two teams compete in a five minute game and the team who scores the most goals wins. Players can use their skill to make the animated cars do aerial and on-the-ground tricks to try to get a shot on the goal.
During the Southern Regional, the Knights beat the likes of Auburn, LSU, USF and Kennesaw State. The team also won $7,500. UCF will compete against three other regional winners at the ELEAGUE X Rocket League Game Zone at the NCAA Men’s Final Four Fan Fest on Sunday, April 7, 2019. Turner and IMG have partnered to produce premium ELEAGUE content and some competitions are broadcast on Turner’s network affiliates TBS and TNT.
This is the first ever year for the Rocket League National Championships. UCF Gaming Knights esports director, Kevin Quiroga, said the Southern Conference Title proves the club is much more than students who sit around at home playing video games. “It brings a lot of recognition to what we do and legitimizes what we are here for,” he said. “People might see us as ‘nerds who play video games’ but in reality we’re athletes for a sport we love.”
A 2018 report in Forbes magazine estimates esports is growing in revenues by a nearly 40 percent clip, and it is expected to become a multi-billion dollar business in 2019 and beyond (Perez, 2018). The Gaming Knights became an official member of the UCF Sport Clubs Council in 2018 after merging two older clubs.
Quiroga, a business administration major in the college of business, said esports helps build lasting connections and friendships and fuels the competitive spirit. “When you want to build an esports community it’s a little more complex, because you have to find the right people and the right passion for the game,” said Quiroga.
For more information on the UCF Recreation and Wellness Center and the sport clubs program, please contact coordinator Andrea Snead at 407.823.2408 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.