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OU yet to open its esports facility due to a global chip shortage

Ohio University’s esports facility plans to open during Spring Semester 2022 after a global computer chip shortage delayed its opening, leaving Bobcat Esports members gaming at home.

According to a previous Post report, in January 2020, OU’s Board of Trustees approved a $650,000 plan to create an esports facility located in the basement of Scripps Hall. OU approved the plan to increase video game presence within the university, as stated in a previous Post report

The esports program originally hoped to open in October 2021 and expected to purchase PCs and consoles, like Xbox and PlayStation, by that time. 

However, the COVID-19 pandemic caused many manufacturers to shut down their factories producing computer chips. That caused a lack of availability, which made it much harder for the university to buy computer parts and new consoles for the facility.

Jeff Kuhn, director of OU’s esports program, said the program changed its expectations to a January 2022 opening date around eight or nine months ago and, currently, it is only waiting on PCs and consoles to become available. Kuhn said the esports program is contacting every vendor it can, and the vendors say they only have a few to sell.

“It's not even at this point our timelines that matter but the timelines of our suppliers,” Kuhn said.

Now, the facility in the basement of Scripps remains locked, with blank whiteboards, empty couches and communal gaming areas fit with gaming chairs and desks that have monitors but no PCs beside them. 

“We were about to play these playoff matches for one of the leagues we were in, and one of our teammates lived in River Park, and the whole building’s power went out like 10 minutes before, and he had to drive over to one of our other friend's houses and play at their house,” Johnathan Schneeman, an OU Rocket League player and a senior studying both psychology and sociology, said. “It was just a whole thing because then we had to wait for him to get there and get set up, and the other teams were waiting on us. It was just terrible, and I really feel like if we're in a facility that would not be happening.”

Dalen Gevedon, a fifth-year senior studying biochemistry and director of the Bobcat Esports team, said he was “bummed”  when he heard the news about the delay because it's his last full year at OU. However, Gevedon said he is not too upset because he will most likely have access to the facility in the spring. 

“It's nice to sit down next to your teammates and give them fist bumps when they score a nutty goal,” Gevedon said.

Schneeman also said the delay is disappointing because it’s his last year at the university and sees other schools that have a facility competing.

Many universities like The University of Akron, Ohio State University and Miami University all have esports facilities that are currently operational. Schneeman said he would like to compete with the Rocket League team in the facility this spring.

“It's just so much more fun playing right next to your friends,” Schneeman said

Schneeman also believes opening the facility will bring OU’s teams closer to varsity status. Schneeman also said none of OU’s competitive esports teams is technically varsity status because they do not have coaches and do not offer scholarships. He said many programs like The University of Akron’s, which completed its esports facility in 2018, provide varsity-level students coaches and scholarships.

Akron’s Rocket League team went 12-0 in Esports Collegiate play, the conference Bobcat Esports competes in.

However, Schneeman said he wants the facility to open because he thinks it will grow the Bobcat Esports club. 

“I’m most excited to be able to see all these other people that don't have the best PCs and don't have the best equipment that can come into the facility, sit down and play at a really nice computer, be able to run the games they want to run and be able to have a good time,” Schneeman said.


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