BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — Wearing an Illinois Wesleyan University Esports jersey pulled over the top of his dress shirt and tie, President Eric Jensen cut
the ribbon to officially open IWU’s state-of-the-art Esports Arena during a ceremony
“It is my great pleasure to introduce this program to you,” Jensen told the crowd
gathered outside of the Esports Arena, located on the second floor of IWU’s Hansen
Student Center. “This space is a jaw-dropping, technology-driven undertaking.”
Jensen’s official jersey was presented to him by Illinois Wesleyan Esports Coach Callum
Fletcher during the ribbon cutting ceremony. A jersey was also presented to Associate
Director of Financial Aid Andrew Reddington, who spearheaded the program and served
as interim coach when the IWU Esports program first launched as a registered student organization (RSO) in the spring of 2017.
“We’re on the cutting edge, we’re on the front end of something that’s growing massively
throughout the United States and the rest of the world, and we are incredibly excited
to be some of the leaders in this program,” Fletcher said.
Hired in the fall of 2017 as the program’s head coach, Fletcher recruited this year’s first-ever Illinois Wesleyan varsity Esports team
which consists of 12 players divided into: Varsity, Academy and JV teams. As members
of the National Association of Collegiate Esports – which includes 86 programs nationwide
– the IWU Esports program competes in “League of Legends,” a fast-paced MOBA (Multiplayer
Online Battle Arena) game set in a fantasy world. Two teams of “champions” battle
head-to-head to demolish their opponent’s base.
“We’re thrilled to be adding this program as a competitive program, as an experience,
and as a way that honors the interests of today’s students in powerful ways,” said
Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students Karla Carney-Hall during Thursday’s
Formerly a conference room, the space was transformed over the course of four months
into a high-tech Esports practice and competition space. The Esports Arena features:
17 PCs and monitors, 17 headsets, keyboards and mice; 17 custom chairs; one smart
projector for analyzing film in the practice area; and one 55-inch TV located outside
of the Esports Arena for the campus community to watch live streaming of game competition
via the University’s Twitch channel.
While “The Coliseum” competition space – housed within the Esports Arena – is exclusively
for members of the varsity Esports team, the larger practice area is open to all Illinois
Wesleyan students when it is not being used by the Esports program.
“Not only are students able to come to Illinois Wesleyan University and get the education
that we provide here, but now gamers have a place on campus that they can come. Their
interests are not only supported, but encouraged,” Fletcher said. “The arena itself
has been professionally designed and inspired for our teams to compete, but also for
our students to enjoy.”
Recently ranked No. 5 in the nation among The Best Colleges for Esports and Gaming, according toValueGamers, the Illinois Wesleyan Esports program will begin competing
in January. However, the team is already utilizing its new space to practice and scrimmage
against other universities across the country.
“My players will tell you that my goal – our goal – is to be the number one program,
the gold standard, in the United States,” Fletcher said. “We want a program that will
make our campus and community proud.”