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Paul Smith’s College opens new esports lab

February 7, 2020
By GRIFFIN KELLY - For the News ( , Lake Placid News

PAUL SMITHS - Game on.

The Paul Smith's College esports lab is now a reality. It's fully stacked with 15 gaming PCs, four 32-inch TVs, multiple Nintendo Switch consoles and high-end gaming chairs designed after NASCAR driver seats.

Esports Coach Matt Bailey said the lab is a huge step up from the team's former practice area.

Article Photos

Students Justin Engler, left, and Ryan Thomas play “Overwatch” in the new Paul Smith’s College esports lab Wednesday, Jan. 22.
(News photo — Griffin Kelly)

"With our previous place, we did have to haul equipment back forth, which did become a little bit tedious," he said. "Now we have an official area that's just dedicated to the esports team."

Bailey said the old equipment the team played on was a little too slow for their competitions.

"This means we have all of the equipment to succeed," he said. "Previously, we were using computers that were not rated for games. We still had some of those square Dell monitors that probably had up to an 8-plus millisecond delay. We weren't doing too hot with them. We did just do a game against Lackawanna College (in Scranton, Pennsylvania) last night, where we did much better. The team performed outstandingly."

The lab was funded by a $100,000 donation from Stewart's Shops and the Dake Family.

"This wouldn't be possible without them," said John Morgan, director of sports initiatives at the college.

The school hosted an esports tournament Saturday, Jan. 25, which awarded high school students a combined $100,000 in scholarships.The grand prize is $28,000 toward an education at Paul Smith's College. All entrees will get $4,000 in scholarships.

Bailey said in January that the team was holding tryouts. He said about 65 students expressed interest in the team and close to 80 are in the club altogether. Not every video game the team plays is recognized by the Eastern College Athletic Conference, so members who play those games might be relegated to the club instead of the team.

"The club is also for those who might not be able to dedicate their time to an athletic team," Bailey said. "It still gives them the opportunity to play the games they enjoy."

Sophomore Daniel Klein said he joined the team because he like playing video games with other people instead of alone. The lab allows his team to compete on a higher level, he said.

"I think it means a lot to the team and the other members of the club just seeing this come to fruition," he said. "We were really hyped about it last semester. Having this equipment shows that we're there and we can compete well with it. There was a lot of latency issue on our old computers."

Steven Frederick, the new vice president for development at the college, watched with wonderment and an open-mouth smile as esports team captains Justin Engler and Ryan Thomas played a round of "Overwatch," a first-person shooter and a major departure from the "Tetris" and "Pac-Man" he knew from childhood.

"This is my first time ever being in any esports lab, so I'm kind of overwhelmed with all the cool equipment and games," Frederick said. "I did a little research and I found that esports is bigger than the Super Bowl, and the World Series and NASCAR. Today's students are really into this stuff, and they're talking about making it an Olympic sport. I think it's just fantastic."

In 2019, 100 million people watched the "League of Legends" World Championship. That year's Super Bowl was close but still behind with 98.2 million viewers. Computer company Intel will host an exhibition esports tournament leading into the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.



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