HU Esports team advances to National Championship
The Storm overcame unprecedented challenges of COVID-19 to beat the best teams in U.S.
After advancing from spring National Championship preliminaries that pitted the top 64 Overwatch teams from across the U.S., the Storm bested Auburn University, Fresno State, UCLA, the University of Washington, and the University of Utah during the quarterfinals and semifinals of the tournament last weekend. The Storm lost only one match against all five teams during the playoffs hosted by TESPA, the world's largest operator of collegiate Esports leagues.
The Storm's Overwatch team will face off against rival Maryville University Saturday, a team it had to beat to win the ESPN Collegiate Esports National Championship n 2019.
While the HU Storm has been able to effectively move all Esports operations online during the past few months, it has faced numerous challenges to reach the championship, said Joe Gramano, head coach of the HU Storm's Overwatch team. Moving all practices and interactions online makes it much harder for team members to continue to develop strong relationships and teamwork, he said.
"Not being able to see each other, not being able to spend time with each other outside of the game, and not being able to talk things out face-to-face are all important factors in being able to build a strong and successful team," Gramano said. "Despite this, we have found a way to make it all work and to create an environment where students are still passionate, motivated, and committed to the sport and to the team."
Last weekend's playoff run is a testament to the commitment the team, University, and regional supporters have made to keep the HU Storm on top of the collegiate Esports world during the past several months, he added.
"Everything we have recently accomplished really goes to show how even in the midst of a pandemic, where the world seems to have taken a step back, Esports continues to grow tremendously and has provided our students and Harrisburg University with something special to always be able to look forward to," Gramano said. "I am excited to be heading into our final week of preparation for the TESPA 2020 Overwatch National Championship Grand Finals, and I know that by the end of the week, we will be able to look back at our season and really be proud of the continued success of our team and program."
Steven Infanti, Sinfanti@HarrisburgU.edu