The NC State Overwatch team traveled down the road to Chapel Hill for North Carolina’s gamefest last Saturday, Feb. 29, beating the Tar Heels 3-1 in a best-of-five series.
Overwatch, a 6v6 first-person shooter, is one of the most popular games in the world and has one of the most established collegiate esports scenes. Playing it combines an extreme requirement of skill with a need for teamwork and collaboration as each character plays a certain in-game role.
“We did get a little overconfident on the third map,” said sophomore captain Preston “Soarin” Sorensen. “Definitely played some sub-optimal things but ended up winning off that, but overall I still feel like we played pretty well.”
Most of the team expected a sweep or a 3-1 over UNC and besides a slip up on map three, it went pretty smoothly. NC State started things off with a 2-0 control win on Busan behind junior Griffin “LEGITBUZZ” Buising, who went on a 16-kill streak to take this one easily.
The next map also went in favor of the Pack, winning 2-1 on hybrid King’s Row. LEGITBUZZ had 30 eliminations while sophomore Patrick “SqiD” Miller had 12 blizzard kills and Soarin collected eight charge kills.
NC State’s only loss came on escort Dorado by a score of 5-4. Despite 16,634 healing done by alum Andrew “mebe0” Wassel, UNC squeaked out its only map win thanks to 20,269 hero damage done by Andrew “Lect” Wortas.
The series was closed out on assault Hanamura, where the Wolfpack swiftly took care of business 2-0. LEGITBUZZ and junior Jay “Swift'' Bate tag-teamed for 31 eliminations and 27 offensive assists, respectively, while junior David “ViPER” Trombley led the team in hero damage done with 12,361.
After getting delayed by a power surge, the match was streamed by UNC’s Evelyn “Eskay” Hollis on UNC Esports’ Twitch page and took just over an hour from start to finish.
“We played [UNC] in the middle of last semester,” Sorensen said. “I know we’ve practiced against them in the past, but two or three weeks ago, I joined their Discord and started talking a little trash to hype things up before the match.”
The team practices once or twice a week for two hours and usually plays in tournaments on Saturdays and Sundays, working toward its final goal of making top eight in the country at the end of the season. That would earn it a spot at Overwatch’s Collegiate Championships, but there are a number of steps it has to get through in March and April to reach that goal. Until then, NC State competes in a weekly league with about 10 other teams and it needs to stay in the top two to reach playoffs.
“My expectation was to try and make top 16,” Bate said. “Some of the others are just doing it for fun and don’t care where we place, but we have the skill level to be top eight, so might as well go for it.”
As collegiate esports often goes, NC State has to compete against schools that can give out varsity scholarships to esports athletes. Without that asset, the team is immediately at a disadvantage but they still believe they can compete with the best.
“We have pretty high expectations for ourselves considering what we know we’re capable of,” Sorensen said. “Last semester, we were top 10 for five or six weeks straight… now we start adding in some of the bigger varsity teams where they are paying for coaches and giving people scholarships.”