The program is in its second varsity season and has about 30 players and student coaches. The university competes in three games, Overwatch, League of Legends and Rocket League and will add two games in the fall, Valorant and Super Smash Bros., boosting the roster to about 40 next season after tryouts.
UW-Stout has a nationally ranked bachelor’s degree program in game design and development-art, but the esports roster has players from a variety of academic disciplines.
The new equipment includes computers, monitors and chairs that are “top of the line,” Miller said.
The Hewlett-Packard Omen computers have a powerful central processing unit and graphics processing unit, the latter allowing players to experience realistic scenes, including reflections off glass and water, to help them process moves when competing.
“We’re competing against a lot of schools that offer scholarships,” Miller said. “We’re lucky to have a lot of talent already here.”
One of those talented players is Frischmann, who is ranked 264th nationally — the top 1% — in Overwatch out of between 15,000 and 25,000 players.
Frischmann enjoys the challenge of esports as much as he did playing high school football. “It’s almost on the same level of mental acuity. The high level of precision you need to maintain for hours is super draining,” he said.
A match, like in volleyball, consists of a best of five series of games; the first team to win three games takes the match. Each game takes between five and 25 minutes.
The Blue Devils’ arena could expand to an adjacent room, which would be used for production, streaming the matches and a play-by-play announcer, which are standard setups at many competing schools, Miller said.
The Blue Devils belong to the National Association of Collegiate Esports, which has more than 170 member schools representing more than 5,000 student athletes.