Tuesday was a big day for Ohio Univiersity’s Bobcat Esports club. After four years in the making, Ohio University held the grand opening of its esports facility, which drew the attention of students and high-ranking university administration.
The official OHIO Esports team held its Homecoming valorant match against Miami University, but Overwatch 2 — a popular team-based, first-person shooter game — was released.
The opening began at 4:30 p.m. and drew a large crowd of current student and alumni gamers to the $722,746 facility located in the basement of Scripps Hall. The facility has been open to all students since Sept. 12 said Jeff Kuhn, OHIO Esports director, but they pushed back the grand opening to make sure resolved tech issues.
Many people who were at the opening played games together, met with people involved with Bobcat Esports and listened to an introduction to the facility given by the director and president of Bobcat Esports and OU’s President Hugh Sherman.
“It’s because of your (Bobcat Esports Club) enthusiasm and your involvement that this has been so successful,” Sherman said. “It’s incredible to hear that there’s over 500 members in the club, it’s really going to be impressive to see what our sports teams can accomplish, and we know that you’re going to beat Miami tonight.”
Sherman experienced the facility by playing Rocket League, a video game in which the player plays soccer as a rocket powered car, alongside Scott Titsworth, dean of the Scripps College of Communication, who was on his team.
The two teamed up against Shawna Wolfe, associate vice president of university planning, and Chris Ament, chief information officer at OU.
The game ended in a 3-1 win by Sherman’s team. Wolfe said it was her first time playing Rocket League and that it was a great experience, even though she scored an “own goal.”
“I think it’s a really great thing for the students, and we’re really glad that they have these interactive spaces and we need to have more of this kind of thing on the campus for everyone,” Wolfe said.
Dalen Gevedon, the vice president of the Bobcat Esports club and Rocket Leauge club, helped the faculty players log in and showed them the ropes of Rocket League.
Gevedon said he had never seen faculty so engaged with esports.
“It’s incredible because you don’t really imagine the people that are running our university are super interested in virtual events or esports in general, and I saw some legitimate excitement for what games can bring to people’s lives in terms of getting people involved and having a good time as a team,” Gevedon said.
Kuhn said he wanted to give faculty the same level of excitement the student players feel when they score a goal. Even though he was not able to watch the whole match, Kuhn said he was happy to hear a couple roars from the audience.
Kuhn also added that the response from students who have been using the facility has been very positive. He has seen great engagement, but is continuing to work on marketing the facility so students are able to use it.
One of the students in attendance was Noah Leigh, a sophomore studying field ecology, who was there for the grand opening and the release of Overwatch 2.
Leigh had been to the arena before the event and said it is a cool addition to the university. He said he likes the computers, the mousepad tables and the ability to play with other people so easily.
“I can play in my dorm,” Leigh said. “I think most people here can but it’s nice to have a space to come and do that with people.”
Correction appended: A previous version of this article stated that Ohio University’s Bobcat Esports club held the Homecoming valorant match, when it should have said the official OHIO Esports team held the Homecoming valorant match. The article also stated the incorrect title of Jeff Kuhn. This article has been updated to reflect the most accurate information.