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Scott Cressman ’20 is already a varsity letterman as a member of Marietta College’s men’s rowing team.

The Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, native hopes to add another varsity letter as a member of the College’s first eSports team.

“I have been waiting for the addition of this program since my freshman year at Marietta,” Cressman says. “I have high hopes for our team, and it will be fun to see how we stack up against other new college teams and previously existing ones.”

Of course, Cressman and the 15 other eSports athletes competing among three teams (League of Legends, Overwatch and Counter Strike: Global Offensive) will have to wait and see if the College transitions the club-level program to a varsity sport.

“I definitely want to see the program grow,” says Dr. Matthew Williamson, who is the coach for Marietta’s eSports program. “We are structured like a varsity sport. We have practices, we have study time and we will compete as a team in tournaments throughout the year.”

Marietta is also a member of the National Association of Collegiate eSports, which is the only association of varsity eSports programs and has more than 80 colleges and universities as part of its membership.

The College recently completed renovations of an eSports competition room in The Gathering Place; however, the gaming computers and chairs don’t arrive until November. The long-term plan is to create an even more dynamic area in a proposed new student center to provide the appropriate atmosphere that will allow the College to recruit nationally ranked gamers.

Cressman has a platinum ranking in League of Legends, which places him in the top 7 percent in the world. Marietta has two other players with impressive rankings — Brandon Larsen ’20 is diamond rated (top 1 percent) and Lucas Danford ’20 is platinum.

“Each member of our team has a ranking,” Cressman says. “The average rank for most players is silver, so it’s hard to find others who are above that. But the key for us is to play as a team. Brandon is the team shot caller.”

Cressman says people who haven’t played these types of video games — many of which are first-person shooter games — don’t understand the long hours and strategy that are needed to be successful.

“I have enjoyed a lot of support from my teammates on crew,” Cressman says. “I’ve also been amazed at the investment and support we have gotten from the College and President Ruud. I went to speak with him when I was a freshman about this, and I still can’t believe this has come together like this.”

- Tom Perry

What is eSports?

eSports is the world of competitive, organized video gaming. Competitors from different leagues or teams face off in games such as Fortnite, League of Legends, Counter-Strike, Call of Duty, Overwatch and Madden NFL. Gamers can be watched and followed by fans all over the world, who attend live events or tune in on TV or online.