One of the Kilgore College Esports teams last night defeated top-ranked four-year universities in the Fall Duos Tournament to qualify as one of the top 24 collegiate video-gaming teams in the country.
The 24 top teams – with KC among them – will compete at the 2020 Call of Duty Collegiate Series: Fall Duos Invitational Tournament Oct. 14-16.
In the process of qualifying for the national tournament, KC this week defeated California State University-Long Beach, University of Arizona, New England College, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, University of New Mexico, Lamar University, Carolina University and Bethany Lutheran.
“There is one more chance to qualify next Wednesday in the Fall Duos 3 Qualifier, so even if our other teams didn’t win a spot this week they can compete again next week,” said Andy Taylor, KC Esports coach. “We have four more duos teams competing in the tournament Wednesday. We hope to add at least one more team to the top 24.”
KC Esports students who competed last night were Santiago Tapia of Longview, David Rivera of Longview, Jacob Sootoo of New Caney, Blade Williams of Kilgore and Matthew “Graham” Asbury of Sunnyvale.
“It is a good step (making the top 24) but there is still a lot of room for improvement to not just make the top 24, but hopefully win first place,” Tapia said. “It means a lot to know I can play for the college and continue my education as well. We’re putting KC on the map for other D1 schools to recognize that we might be a small school (comparatively) but we have a lot of talent.”
The Fall Duos Invitational Tournament will have a $5,000 scholarship prize pool, with the top two finishers receiving $1,000 scholarships.
About Esports at KC:
Esports began at KC in the spring of 2019 following an initial tournament that awarded $4,000 in KC scholarships to the top finishers.
Esports at KC has a 43-member student team that competes across the country with other colleges and universities in video gaming tournaments.
“The 43 students are broken into five teams competing in Call of Duty, Valorant, League of Legends, Overwatch and Rocket League,” Taylor said.
Students competing on varsity teams must meet academic requirements and be enrolled full time at KC.
“We’re excited to see our numbers grow as word spreads about this unique program,” Taylor said.
Professional video gaming, or Esports, has become a multi-billion dollar industry, and KC is on the cutting-edge of training future video gamers with the opening of the college’s Esports training room last March.
This state-of-the-art facility in the Devall Student Center features the best available gaming computer stations, powered by Dell, with 27-inch monitors and RTX 2080 TI graphics cards.
“If students want to join the ranks of the professional gamers, they have to hit a very special type of gym,” Taylor said.
“We are extremely proud of our new ‘gym’ that gives our students a place to practice and prepare for competitions.”
But it’s not all about playing video games. Many of the “gamers” in the program are also enrolled in academic game design courses through KC’s Computer and Information Technology (CIT) program.
"Kilgore College is on the cutting-edge, not only by creating an Esports team, but also being the first community college in Northeast Texas to offer these academic game design courses,” said Dr. Brenda Kays, KC president.
Academic courses include Introduction to Game Design and Development, Mobile Applications Development, Digital Imaging and various computer programming courses.
"In the multi-billion dollar gaming industry, jobs are available as animators and other artists, writers, video game testers, software developers, computer programmers, audio engineers, producers, marketing managers and sales representatives," Kays said.
"The list goes on and on. Kilgore College is truly preparing these students for the next step and giving them the best chance for their educational success in a booming career field."
For more information on Esports at KC, visit www.kilgore.edu/esports.
Game design courses at KC:
Many students on the KC Esports team are also taking game design courses at the college.
For students interested in pursuing a career as a video game developer, the Computer and Information Technology (CIT) department at KC offers courses in computer programming that can lead to a career in game development.
Courses at KC include computer programming, digital imaging, mobile applications development, and game design and development.
These courses are part of a one-year certificate in Software Support and a two-year associate’s degree in Software Development and Support.
“We teach C/C++ heuristics, best practices, and design patterns via graphical and game design," said Mark Stephens, CIT instructor who teaches software development.
"This approach stokes the students’ passion for software development while also providing them direct experience in the 100+ billion-dollar gaming industry."