Esports take center stage at PSU

Jan. 13—PITTSBURG, Kan. — As the popularity of Esports rises, Pittsburg State University is poised to host its first Esports event — the PSU Intramural Esports Expo — on Jan. 19 at the Bicknell Family Center. The event, which is free and open to the public, will be an intramural competition featuring teams from PSU, Emporia State, Missouri Western and possibly Missouri Southern.

Pitt State's Esports intramural program began last year as part of Campus Recreation, in affiliation with the National Association of Collegiate Esports and the National Esports Collegiate Conference and is coordinated by Gabriel Cozart, a 2021 graduate.

"The cool thing about Esports is it is a sport that is so inclusive and so accessible — anyone can do it," Cozart said in a press release. "There is a stigma around gamers that they live in their moms' basements and don't come out for days at a time, but the students we have competing are in very high academic standing. They're majoring in business, biology, computer information, chemistry, accounting, mathematics, music. We had one just earn two bachelor's degrees and another earn a master's degree."

Cozart also talked about the social benefits of gaming.

"You get to interact with people all over the world who share your interests," he said. "My buddy is stationed on an Air Force base in Germany, and playing games online with him is a way for us to hang out, spend time together, stay in touch."

Competittors at the expo will be set up on stage in the Dotty and Bill Miller Theater, while spectators will view via livestream from the larger Linda and Lee Scott Performance Hall.

"It's really no different than going to watch a football game. It's the same mindset — the reason you'd go to watch anything competitive," Cozart said. "You watch because you enjoy the game, you like to see it played at the highest level possible, you get to be around people who share that same interest. Sometimes you expand your social network and meet new friends to play online with."

The PSU Esports Expo will begin at 10 a.m. and continue throughout the day with the following match-ups: VALORANT, Rocket League, Overwatch and League of Legends.