ISU Redbirds take flight in international Esports tournament

Published: Mar. 21, 2023 at 7:00 PM CDT
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PEORIA (25News Now) - Illinois State University will compete in an international Esports competition for the first time in team history this Friday.

Seven varsity players will challenge professional gamers in the “Pro-Am West” tournament.

Redbird Esports was the only collegiate Overwatch team to claim a spot in the international tournament this year.

“Even when we’ve come through consolation brackets or taken a hit, we’ve always surmounted it,” said Coach Megan Lomonof.

“We’re kind of that team that can always figure it out. I hope that we can keep doing it. I see no reason why we’re not going to, and I think we are going into the playoffs as favorites,” said Lomonof.

Players told 25News that training for a competition of this scale is a six-day per week commitment, in addition to going to school.

“This whole competition is a once-in-a-lifetime thing,” said varsity player Steven Saucedo.

“This doesn’t happen regularly. This is our first time ever doing this. So, having the chance to play against them on the big screen and having a chance to beat them is an amazing opportunity,” Saucedo said.

Director of Redbird Esports David Kirk says the facility is really popular with students since it opened last October. However, Kirk said they saw 5,500 students play in the campus facility in the first two months.

“They’ve developed new relationships and created new friends,” said Kirk. “Seeing people be able to relate around a game title or just gaming in general and build new friendships is important because that’s the whole purpose of why we’re here.”

More information on Redbird Esports can be found here.