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>> Steven Miller:

My name is Steven Miller, and I'm the Communications Manager at Waubonsee Community College.

We have this podcast that people can learn more about the employees, students, partners and programs of Waubonsee.

Jarod Ericksen is the coach of the new e-sports team here. He and I sat down and talked about e-sports as a college competitive event. What goes into being an e-sports athlete and how spectators can experience e-sports.

We hope you enjoy this conversation.

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>> Steven Miller:

Today we're talking to Jarod Ericksen.

He is the coach of Waubonsee's new e-sports team.

So Jarod, this is a new program and you're new to the college. So tell us a little bit about yourself and your background. And what led you to coaching e-sports.

>> Jarod Ericksen:

Right, yeah, so, I came on here at Waubonsee about two months ago now. Hired a little bit later in development of the program. My background being an e-sports, I've been playing since I was four or five years old starting on basic Nintendo and stuff like that.

But coaching e-sports at the college level definitely takes a little more experience. So I'm not just coming in here as a gamer. I have a background in coaching traditional sports. I had soccer for many years, and then transitioned into coaching e-sports when I moved into kind of my adult life. Just having a passion for developing players and helping people get better. It's something that I really love and I was passionate about.

>> Steven Miller:

So okay, it's interesting.

So you played and coached soccer, traditional soccer?

>> Jarod Ericksen:

Correct.

>> Steven Miller:

And what do you see is the connection between that kind of experience and playing, coaching e-sports?

>> Jarod Ericksen:

Right, I think there's a lot of values that translate from traditional coaching, to coaching an e-sports team. You look at a lot of the professional teams, they're gonna have the same kind of staffing that a soccer or a football team would. They have analysts, they have psychologists, they have nutritionists, all that. Cuz it's all important, regardless of the sport being physical or mental, being in shape and healthy plays a part in that absolutely.

>> Steven Miller:

Sure, sure, very interesting.

Okay, so we talked about your background here.

So what are e-sports, so this is that we've mentioned the term e-sports and traditional sports. So the implication is that e-sports is
something not traditional, seems new and kind of up and coming. What is e-sports?

>> Jarod Ericksen:

E-sports at its core, just at the face value, it's competitive video games is what it is. It's been around since the early days. You go back to arcades, with Tekken or Pac Man or things. There's always been tournaments around it, but it's never been such a large scale. Because there's never really been a large interest in it. And now that's kinda coming to fruition. The competitive aspect is becoming more mainstream. Because there's a lot of money backing a lot of programs, whether it's professional, collegiate, anything.

>> Steven Miller:

Okay, so e-sports, as you alluded to, e-sports is very popular right now.

What has led to that?

Obviously technology, and the amount of games available, and the fact that many people have game systems in their homes.

What other things have contributed to this popularity of e-sports right now?

>> Jarod Ericksen:

I think, in addition to justthe general accessibility of e-sports, the games that are competitive, anybody can log on and play it. And while they may not be professional level or very good for many, many years, or ever really, they're still able to play it and enjoy it.

Whereas, you look at maybe football, that's something that not everybody can play. I played for two years, and it was not for me I enjoyed it, but it definitely is something I enjoy spectating more than playing.

>> Steven Miller:

Sure.

>> Jarod Ericksen:

But I think another thing that's kind of brought e-sports to the forefront is the community around it, it's very welcoming.

In addition to anybody being able to play and anybody can join that community. And I find that anytime someone wants to learn how to watch it, or learn how to enjoy it, the community around it is very receptive to that. And they want to help you learn, so you can enjoy it just as much as they do.

>> Steven Miller:

It's interesting, you mentioned the word community a few times. And we being a community college, it seems to kinda fit in well in this environment. This idea of people coming together to learn and to compete and participate in activities.

Okay, so from a spectator perspective. Why should people, why should someone who does not participate in e-sports be interested in or care about this? And how does a person get into this as a spectator?

>> Jarod Ericksen:

I think initially when you start watching it, it's gonna be very foreign. It's very difficult to understand. Just the heads up display that you're gonna be looking at when you're watching a match is sometimes difficult to follow.

So I think the best way to start is by finding somebody who already watches it or is somewhat familiar with it. And get them involved cuz they're gonna help you learn a lot faster. For myself, we'll go to a traditional sport that I'm not really familiar with, something like cricket, obviously.

>> Steven Miller:

That's exactly the reference I was thinking about, how would someone explain cricket?

But go ahead.

>> Jarod Ericksen:

Right, right, if you sit down and try to watch cricket on your phone,you're probably not gonna understand it. The analysts or the commentators which are present in these sports, any competitive match is gonna have commentators. They're gonna be talking about the game and you'll kind of be able to glean a few things from that. But if you're sitting down with somebody that actually plays cricket or knows it, you're gonna understand the game a lot faster than you would if they weren't.

>> Steven Miller:

So, okay, so, Waubonsee has a new e-sports program.

We'll talk more specifically about that in just a minute. But how can one begin to observe and participate in this program? What's the timeline, and when does it start?

And when and where can someone be involved in this as a spectator.

>> Jarod Ericksen:

I think kind of parents and students here that are interested in supporting the program and watching it. Just making sure they're watching on the Go Chiefs website or the Go Chiefs Twitter.

We are making announcements regularly.

Anybody who wants to be a part of the community Discord around Waubonsee e-sports. Discord is an app that's used, it's on computers, on your phone as well. It's just like a community chat. It's a little bit safer than some of the other ones out there. We have a lot of announcements going out there.

But if they want to start supporting it, we should be playing matches sometime in February after we complete our trial sessions.

>> Steven Miller:

Okay, nice.

So specifically about the program here at Waubonsee. So what games will be competed in? And just talk about the program, specifically here at Waubonsee. What are we playing? And how do you make the team and all these kinds of things, whatever you're saying.

>> Jarod Ericksen:

Sure, so right now we're kinda committed to two games in particular.

League of Legends, which is probably the biggest e-sport in the world. Largest money pools, consistent player salaries, chances to go pro. There's probably 200 professional players in the US alone.

And we're also gonna be running Rocket League.

Both of those teams are gonna run tryouts in late January or early February. And once we have those rosters established, we'll actually start playing in matches and competing. So our timeline around it is still kind of fuzzy. Cuz we're waiting on our construction to finish up in Erickson 213.

>> Steven Miller:

Okay, so we're playing at Waubonsee, our teams will be competing primarily in a couple of games. One called League of Legends and one called Rocket League. Tell us a little bit about those, what are those games about?

>> Jarod Ericksen:

Sure, so Rocket League is a three on three soccer game, soccer played with cars. So it's a little unique in that factor, the cars are able to fly as well. It takes a lot of mechanical ability, a lot of skill to be able to pilot those. So we're hoping to find some good players for that.

And then League of Legends is a five on five cooperative game. It's a little more complex to get into the game in its entirety. But knowing that it's five on five, it's pretty much all you need to know to start watching it and then you'll understand. And pick up things as you continue to view it.

>> Steven Miller:

So walk us through a match of League of Legends and Rocket League.

What does it look like from the perspective of a player? And or the perspective of a spectator, what is this experience like?

How do you win?

What is the experience?

>> Jarod Ericksen:

Sure, so in a traditional set up where we're gonna be watching our matches and having them streamed or broadcasted for anybody to view, when it comes to Rocket League, we'll have pregame commentary. So we'll have two analysts talking or one analyst possibly, talking about how the game is going to unfold and they're gonna talk about the roster strengths and who we're playing against as well. A lot of that pregame scouting will be done on my part and shared with them, so that they're able to talk about it.

But Rocket League, same way soccer is played, you're trying to score goals,it's a set amount of time. Usually, in Rocket League you get set up as the best of three, so they're gonna play three games and one total match. So those games are gonna be broken down into two five minute halves. And they're gonna play against each other, try to score the most goals at the end of the game.

They can go into overtime if they’re still tied and that's pretty much it for Rocket League.

>> Steven Miller:

So this is a sound like it's a fast paced game to five minute halves and flying cars and scoring goals.

It sounds, sounds pretty fast actions, but-

>> Jarod Ericksen:

Yeah, yeah, it's a lot of fun to watch, there's a lot going on. As you start to watch the game, you'll understand a little bit more about the little nuances. Is about being able to like angle the ball off the wall because it's played in an enclosed arena.

So there's no out of bounds.

So it is constant action.

If you've ever watched think maybe hockey, the puck really doesn't go out to play that much. There's no breaks in the game. It's just constantly going.

>> Steven Miller:

Years ago I watched an arena league football game and all those are the things that you can just check people in the walls and the ball does not go hundred pounds it is pretty fascinating.

>> Jarod Ericksen:

So yeah, Rocket League has a unique feature where you have access to something called boost. And what that does is it makes your car go faster and you can use it to actually RAM and enemy players and destroy their cars.

>> Steven Miller:

So you're talking soccer with cars.

You just mentioned the ability to go faster. What's the size of the, and you mentioned it's an arena, what's the size and how much space is covered here?

>> Jarod Ericksen:

Sure, so six players total, there's enough room in the game to kind of move around and position yourself. In a way when you're predicting the enemy's next move. So whoever you're playing against, if they're gonna hit the ball a certain angle. Being able to predict where that ball is gonna go, and making a play on it that way, is pretty common. All players are involved during the match. So it's not gonna be, one person is assigned as the goalie. Everybody plays offense, everybody plays defense. Kinda again, we'll go back to the hockey analogy where defensemen can come up and score goals as well. It's the same idea in Rocket League, except there's no permanent goalie.

>> Steven Miller:

Okay, interesting, okay, talk a little about League of Legends.

What's that?

What's that like?

>> Jarod Ericksen:

Sure, so League of Legends.

Again, when you start watching it, there should be pregame commentary. It's going to go a little more in depth, there's going to be some terminology and verbiage that's used that people may be unfamiliar with. Again, that's where you're going to benefit from having somebody that's familiar with the game there with you, but a good analyst is going to try to make it as broad and understandable by everyone as possible. So if you start watching it, and there's things that you maybe don't understand, don't feel left out, you'll come to understand them in time. At the end of the day, when you watch the match, it's all going to play out the same way.

So when you load into the game, the very first thing that the players are going to go through is something called pick and ban phase. What that is the teams are essentially selecting five characters, unique characters that they're going to play, and they're going to be different than what the other team has.

So, when you load in, you're gonna have a band phase first, which is where you're going to select champions that the enemy team doesn't get to play.

So there's over 150 champions and league legends right now. There's a lot of unique characters you can play all with their own unique ability sets And if you know that the enemy team plays certain champions very well you can choose to ban some of those out or make sure they don't have them.

>> Steven Miller:

The term, ban, is keeping the other team from getting, is barning them from using those players.

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>> Jarod Ericksen:

Correct. but it's gonna be for one game though, So, League of Legends is generally, Played it's a best of three as well.

I think during the regular season we'll probably do best of ones that's usually how it is in terms of matches.

So, on set initial band phase is complete each champion is going to be picked in an order based on what side of the map that you play on. So you either play on the bottom side which is the blue side or the top side, which is the red side. There's really no advantage to either side in terms of playing the game, except during that initial phase where you're picking your champions.

If you're on blue side, you have the very first pick of the game so you get to pick whoever you want. And then on the red side, you have the very last pick. So it gives you an opportunity to maybe pick something that's really good into the enemy team.

You can counter the pick So those first three picks up, and then it's gonna go into a second band phase where you're gonna kind of analyze what the enemy has picked so far, and then you get to ban out additional champions and then you're gonna finish picking to round out your team calm.

And that's it the entire time that's happening. You're gonna have analysts talking about the match about where they know Specific team's strengths are, where the enemy team's weaknesses are. And what they kinda focus on. So, it's kinda like a pre-game analysis.

Whenever you watch an NFL match especially with the playoffs having just happened. They talked about the game for four, five hours before it even happens. For League of Legends that's going to happen in about a span of 30 or 45 minutes.

>> Steven Miller:

Okay, interesting.

So then the nature of this game League of Legends, so what what is going on mentioned a map and blue side, red side what is the terrain lines?

What is the competition like?

>> Jarod Ericksen:

So League of Legends is pretty simple.

When it comes to the map it's broken down into three separate lanes, which is top lane, mid lane and bottom lane and what that lane is it's a direct path to the enemy base.

Now along each of these lanes, there's three towers and these towers are pretty. Protected, and fortified, and very hard to kill. But the only way you can destroy them is if you actually are able to get up to them.

And you have these minions that spawn in your lane, every 30 seconds.And they're gonna walk down the lane And automatically, there's nothing that can influence them or change their path. Their goal is to go down that lane all the way to the enemy base.

And when they meet with one another, they fight each other. They generally don't mess with you unless you mess with them.

So when you're on your champion and you're in one of those lanes, if you're able to destroy those minions on the enemy side and get your minions into the enemy tower, it makes it a little bit easier to destroy them.

Now, in addition to the lanes. You also have the parts in between the lanes, which is known as the jungle. And in the jungle, there are neutral camps, or neutral monsters that you can fight. And generally, the only person who's gonna fight those is your jungler on your team. That's one of the positions in League of Legends.

So your jungler essentially roams around the map in between the lanes destroying those camps. That's how he levels up andthat's how he gets gold. That's his economy through that jungle area. And then he can look to influence any of the lanes that he wants to go into. So he can essentially create a situation where it's a two on one or a three on two or however, it is Now the enemy has one of these as well and you don't get to see them, cuz that area is plucked out on the map so it's very you get a kind of predict where they're gonna go.

So a lot of the early stages of the game are spent in the lane specifically, and you're going to be wherever your position is. You are kind awaiting for the jungle to come and influence the map As the game progresses and as towers are destroyed and as objectives on the map are going to spawn, the objectives are pretty obvious when a team is going to fight over them.

There's usually a lot of action and generally when there's an objective, it kind of it has a magnetic effect where all the teams want it. So you're gonna to have more than just a one-on-one fight. You could have a full team fight where it's three-on-three or four-on-four. You could have full five-on-five.

>> Steven Miller:

Sure. Sure.

So how much time, you mentioned the Rocket League game is two halves of five minutes.

What's the timeline fora League of Legends game and match?

>> Jarod Ericksen:

I'd say an average League of Legends game is gonna run about 25 to 30 minutes. That's just the match itself, not including the earlier part.

A full game, probably about 60 minutes with analysis, pre and post game.

It can go upwards of 50 or 60 minutes, it depends on how the teams played.

But the game nowadays, the way it's kind of been fixed and organized to happen. They want it to be a faster paced game. And there's elements that will come into the game later in the time. That will actually help you speed up the pace of the game.

>> Steven Miller:

Sure, okay, so let's talk more about this in terms of Waubonsee.

So we've got these two games at Waubonsee.

Who will the Waubonsee team be competing against?

What is the competition field, who participates?

And then we'll talk about where these matches happen at.

>> Jarod Ericksen:

Sure, yeah, so Waubonsee, this is really a unique aspect of e-sports. They can play anybody in the nation. We can go from Friday playing against the University of California Irvine. And then the very next day we could play Miami of Ohio.

Since it's all online, the matches are able to happen in real time, you don't have to travel anywhere. As long as you have access to good Internet and you have your computers, we're able to compete in our own arena against other teams.

When it comes to what we're gonna be playing in, there's a couple of leagues we have in mind.

For League of Legends, we're gonna be participating in something called GG leagues. Which is a Midwest-only competition, that's for colleges in the area. So that'll be a more localized tournament and that's all gonna be online as well. Should our team perform really well in that and we make it to the finals, the company does put on a very fun in person finals.

So we would actually travel to a center and get to play against another team.

>> Steven Miller:

Okay, so given that most of these will probably happen in one location for now.

What is that location?

What is your space like?

What do we have here at Waubonsee, as far as space where our team will be competing?

>> Jarod Ericksen:

So we actually have a huge arena under development right now that's gonna have state of the art equipment. It's gonna be decked out with logos and decals. And it's gonna feel like it's really a competitive space. Where our team is gonna be reserved to play. That's where we practice, that's where we play, that's where everything happens right in there.

There will be a more social aspect to that area. So half of the room will be dedicated to a competitive space, which is where our varsity athletes and our junior varsity athletes will practice. And then we'll also have another half of that room that will be dedicated to more of a social gathering.

Where our clubs that are involved with e-sports or video games or anything like that will be able to come in and kind of hang out.

>> Steven Miller:

And this space is in Erickson Hall here on the Sugar Road Campus correct?

>> Jarod Ericksen:

Correct.

>> Steven Miller:

And Erickson Hall is the home of the Waubonsee athletics programs all the teams are there.

>> Jarod Ericksen:

Correct.

>> Steven Miller:

So this e-sports team is a competitive team within the Athletics Department.

So, to talk about that fit.

What is the relationship of this sport to other sports on the campus? Given that this is a new and upcoming program here at the college.

>> Jarod Ericksen:

Right, myself, I am part of the Athletics Department as the head coach of e-sports here at Waubonsee. I work out of the athletic offices just like any of our other coaches, baseball, volleyball, whatever it is. I work directly with the athletic director. That's who I report to, Dana Wagner, she's fantastic to work with. She's super supportive of this program and really excited to get it going.

In terms of our athletes, we have uniforms. I have scholarship funding that I'm able to offer any kids that I feel like they should play here. I really want them to play here. Everything that athletics has access to, we have access to.

>> Steven Miller:

We were talking about scholarships and getting athletes and things.

So, do any of the high schools have this program? And what is the pipeline for these kind of athletes?

I know high school or colleges are recruiting football and basketball and baseball athletes from the time they're probably in a middle school at this point. What is the talent pipeline for this program?

>> Jarod Ericksen:

So, I have access to the same high schools that are in district as our regular athletics do. They recruit from the schools that are in our specific district. That's who we can offer scholarships to. Or if they're out of district, we can't offer the scholarships, but they can still come and play for us. I recruit the exact same way our other athletic department do. I go into the schools, not all of the schools have eSports programs. I know Oswego is a big recruiting ground. They have very active programs, very good teams there. And it's the same way that you would approach a traditional athletics recruiting. Where you go in, you talk to the athletes, you get them involved. You can have them come and tour the campus.

I do have a unique advantage where a lot of the statistics that you have to maybe sometimes even pay for to get access to. When it comes to those high school level athletes, I can simply go online and look up their profile for whatever game that they play. And I can research in that way and kinda see very cut and dry what the statistics are like on paper. It's still good to get out there and talk to the athletes, of course, assess personalities.

>> Steven Miller:

So I guess you'll get out to area high schools and watch them compete, I guess. Or I guess you wouldn't even have to go to it, cuz you can probably just jump online and observe the matches of the high schools, is that correct?

>> Jarod Ericksen:

That is possible, it kinda depends on the high school streaming capabilities. General matches that are just played. Unless it's gonna be streamed through some competitive high school circuit. Which there are a few out there. I don't know if all the schools, or any of the schools are necessarily involved in those.

The only way to really watch them is to have them submit kind of a VOD or a video on demand to you, and then I can watch it that way. But for the most part, I do have to go to the schools to watch them play.

>> Steven Miller:

Interesting, okay, so we've talked about the program here and kind of the fact this is already in high schools and things.

What do e-sport athletes do after college? Let's say somebody comes here, and maybe there's something they wanna do, kind of something fun to do, a competitive thing to do while in college.

But you mentioned earlier something about the professional aspect of this. Whether it be in the e-sports field after college.

What do e-sport athletes do? What can they do in terms of-

>> Jarod Ericksen:

Some of the avenues that are open to them?

>> Steven Miller:

Yeah, some of the avenues, you got a better term.

>> Jarod Ericksen:

Yeah.

>> Steven Miller:

It is just an avenue to things outside of e-sports.

Is this a pathway to something, cyber-something or tech industry something else? Talk to us about what these athletes do.

>> Jarod Ericksen:

So it's actually really unique in the fact that, with the accessibility, anybody being able to play this. I can have an English major, I can have a math major, I can have a chemistry major, all on the same team. I may have somebody that's not even in the IT or computer science field playing for the team.

When it comes to what you're gonna do afterwards, it's really important that you focus on education and get your degree. Because that's gonna be your security. I think as e-sports continues to develop, there's more and more opportunities within the field.

In terms of playing, in terms of being an analyst, or a broadcaster or a coach. A lot of the things that you look at with traditional athletics, in terms of playing, what you do afterwards, is very similar with e-sports. So if you want to be a psychologist for a team, you can work as a psychologist for a team. If you want to be a production manager for one of the professional team, you can do that.

In terms of how accessible it is, it's not as wide as, say, the NFL, who has 32 teams in cities all across the US. Most of the professional scene for e-sports is out on the West Coast, in California, so that's where you're gonna end up.

>> Steven Miller:

But even so, outside of the e-sports industry, the idea of competition Collegiate level competition is good that both most college athletes don'tmake a career playing football or baseball or basketball or anything else. They use the opportunity to compete and get that sense of competition and they're better off for it.

And that's true, not just athletes but musicians and marching band competitions. And there's a whole host of competition available, and this is just another one of those where people are interested in this feels, I think it's I think it's really fascinating.

Okay, so I've always felt that I should be the first baseman for the St. Louis Cardinals. There are a lot of people who disagree with me, though, and therefore I'm not a first baseman. I'm not the first baseman for the St. Louis Cardinals.

So in this discipline of eSports, what what makes an eSports athlete? What is it that separates a casual player from a collegiate level player?

>> Jarod Ericksen:

To be a collegiate level athlete, what do you need to do?

You really need to take care of your body.

You gonna make sure you're sharp mentally and physical, you have to understand your game, you have to practice your game, and you have to be consistent.

We look for the same thing in eSports athletes, we want people that are generally in shape. I want my athletes to participate in the physical regimen that I've put in place for our program. You think eSports are just playing video games, right?

Well, no, we have to be in physical shape as well. Having good posture, stretching beforehand. That's all stuff that's a given. But actually working out and taking care of your body, I believe there is a direct correlation between physical shape and mental shape. If you're in shape, you're healthy, you're gonna be able to perform better, you're gonna be able to perform for longer.

And then our eSports athletes, we want them to be healthy in terms of what they're eating. We want them to be healthy in terms of their lifestyle. We wanna be mindful in our practices. We don't wanna be practicing for three hours here and then have them go home and play for another four hours. That's not mindful practice.

There's gonna be diminishing returns if you spend all day playing the game. And I think one of the biggest things we look for in our athletes here is we want positive attitudes. It's very difficult to keep that because of the top level of we'll say the legends play.

Unfortunately, the end game community around it is really toxic. There's a lot of people because it's so accessible, even if you're in the top four or 5,000 players in the US, I'd say a good 4,000 of those have pretty poor attitudes. If they're losing in the game early on, they don't believe in comebacks, and it's very difficult to play in that environment.

So being mentally stout, being strong and able to play from a position where you're losing is definitely important. Cuz when you're on a team, even if you're down 38, nothing in a football game, for the most part, everybody on that sideline feels like they can still win. They're gonna put on a face that says hey, we're still on this game, let's go out there and start one score at a time. Same thing with any sports athlete.

>> Steven Miller:

Interesting, so it sounds as you're saying that, I'm thinking about the term that comes to mind is kind of a whole of life approach. Just making good athletes, Broadly, and good citizens.

Good, you're talking about good attitude just the idea of of competing for the sake of competition, all the way through to the end. And I've heard the term with my track athletes, you push through to the finish line, and so that's it, it's whether you're down or up, and just being good sport.

That's really tremendous, great, great insight.

So eSports is a new thing. And so we've already talked about kind of why is popular now, but for someone who is not interested, you guys really know anything about eSports now, either as a spectator or participant? Why should they be interested in this right now?

>> Jarod Ericksen:

Right, you may not have any friends or family that are directly involved in it, but I can almost guarantee everyone out there has a niece, a nephew, a cousin, a neighbor. Somebody who is actively involved. It's over a $1 billion industry. Last year there were over 4 or 5 million viewers for the League of Legends World Championship just in the US alone. There were 200 million worldwide watching it. It's only growing, and if you end up behind the curve, well, I'm sure you have a friend who maybe doesn't watch football and you think they're kinda weird. You don't wanna be the guy who's kinda weird, who's not familiar with something, so get involved now.

>> Steven Miller:

Fair point.

>> Jarod Ericksen:

And people are always gonna be receptive to you. If you have a friend or a family member who's into it, ask them about it. I'm sure they're more than happy to share their passion with you, cuz generally at least with eSports if you watch it you play it, and if you don't play it that's okay. We want you to come and watch it, we want you to be involved, we want to have the fans, the cheering arenas and and our athletes here, or bonds you're going to deserve that all the same. So we encourage you to come out even if you're unfamiliar get involved, we want you around.

>> Steven Miller:

So Jarod, tell us a little bit about the the event was with everything. There's advantages and disadvantages and reasons to do something, reason not do something.

What are some of those features of eSports?

>> Jarod Ericksen:

Of course.

So some of the advantages of participating in eSports is the low physical commitment in terms of strain on your body. There's really not a lot of physical strain unless you're sitting with improper posture. You're not stretching beforehand or anything like that. You're generally going to be healthier than the average athlete in terms of staying healthy.

Some of the disadvantages however are you are prone to the common diseases of eSports or anything that uses your hands. You think a pianist, a gamer, somebody who golfs a lot even nerd tennis, things like that, you can have and develop bad carpal tunnel syndrome, you can have wrist problems. And that that all comes down to making sure when you're practicing on one thing we preach here to our teams is being mindful with everything. Make sure you're sitting with proper posture, and that starts with equipment.

We have awesome gaming chairs in the arena that are gonna be there that's gonna help our athletes stay healthy and perform well while they're playing and not have to worry about that.

>> Steven Miller:

What's the time commitment?

You've mentioned practice and there's obviously that, but for someone who's interested in this, what is It was time commitment involved?

>> Jarod Ericksen:

Sure, it's really not more than than your average sport. We're asking our athletes to come in and practice three times a week, we practice for generally two to three hours at a time. That's not strictly playing.

I'd say that most of the time kids if they're practicing at home and I air quotes around, practicing, they're sitting down and they're playing for three or four hours nonstop. That's not practice, that's you spending a lot of time playing a game that you enjoy.

There's nothing wrong with that. But if it develops into a bad habit and you're not participating in traditional athletics.

Or you're not trying to keep yourself up in school and keeping your grades up, then it's a bad time commitment.

>> Steven Miller:

Sure.

>> Jarod Ericksen:

But if you're doing well in all other aspects, you're active, your grades are great, you're doing what your parents are telling you to do, then you're in good shape to play as long as you want. And if you're good and you're participating in tournaments, that's fantastic. Obviously your time isn't being wasted.

When it comes to the college level, however, when my athletes are here and they're practicing, I don't really want them playing outside of practice time. If that's how they want to spend some of their free time because this is a passion, this is a hobby, something people really enjoy and it's accessible, right?

If you go and practice football, the chances of you finding a pickup game of football outside of that practice is pretty slim.

So it's hard for you to play outside of there.

Whereas with games Any sports, you can go straight home and continue playing, and a lot of these athletes have that passion. They want to continue playing and playing. But it's important to be mindful of your practice cuz you really do get diminishing returns as you start hitting that three or four-hour mark. And with our practices, we'll spend maybe an hour and a half of it playing but a lot of it is doing video review. Rewatching matches, understanding where mistakes happened, how to avoid them, things like that.

>> Steven Miller:

So fascinating.

So here at, we're starting off the Starting this program with two games, League of Legends and Rocket League, why those two games?

>> Jarod Ericksen:

So when we initially looked at games here at Waubonsee, we kinda had an idea of what we maybe wanted to run. We had looked at the NJCAA, and the games that they're sanctioning as possible games to run. The games that they wereoffering were Super Smash Bros., Madden NFL 20 and Rocket League. And out of those three, we decided to go with Rocket League, strictly because of the fact it's a little bit larger of a team.

I get three varsity and three junior varsity athletes for that. And also the longevity of the game, Madden and Super Smash Bros are all gonna be releasing a new game every other year. And within the sports industry as new games fade in and out, Fortnight just came in two or three years ago and it's still huge. It obviously had a model that was designed to make it successful in the long term.

But in four, five years is no guarantee that Fortnite is still gonna be played even. I'm sure there will be some players for it but it might not be as popular because the new game may come in. Whereas with Rocket League, that's something that's probably a staple that's gonna stay. There is nothing that can change within the game that's going to make it very different than what it is now. It's not gonna be vastly different, it's still gonna be soccer, and the goal of the game is still gonna be the same.

So that has a good longevity, that's a program we can run multiple years in a row here without worrying about it fading out.

And then with League of Legends, that's been competitive for eight or nine years now. And it's something that's only grown every year with teams franchising with NBA teams. Owning teams in the league, the Golden State Warrior or the Golden Guardians. The Houston Rockets just sold their team in the league to the Philadelphia Seventy Sixers, so there's a lot of money invested in it.

Because League of Legends is so popular, we have a wider player base. Which means, for us, recruitment is easier and it means the popularity is gonna be there.

>> Steven Miller:

Sure, so it sounds like there would also be the opportunity over time for new games to be added that the college could choose to participate in as well?

>> Jarod Ericksen:

Absolutely, and the cool thing is just based on the population in the area and how large Waubonsee is. We have so many students here, chances are we can find players that can compete in the games.

>> Steven Miller:

Sure.

>> Jarod Ericksen:

But the important thing is if we're gonna bring a new game out of the roster, we need to see interest in it.

>> Steven Miller:

Sure.

>> Jarod Ericksen:

And the way we see interest in it as we look at our local community high school. See what kinda teams they have, cuz we want that talent developed early. I don't wanna pull six players out of their home who have no competitive gaming experience. Didn't get a chance to play in high school maybe cuz it wasn't accessible to them. There might be a few diamonds in the rough that I could find to bring into play on those teams.

But if I have six average level players that wanna compete, chances are I can coach them and make them good players.

But if they don't have that natural talent there, then we're probably not gonna do very well. And ultimately, we do want to perform well in all the games we have in our programs.

>> Steven Miller:

Sure, of course, yeah.

You mentioned The National Basketball Association being involved in this, that's interesting.

You also mentioned the NJCAA, the National Junior College Athletic Association, the games are essential. So this isn't just something that Waubonsee is doing on its own. There is a lot of heavy hitters involved in this, the National Junior College Athletic Association and the NBA and others.

So there's a lot you mentioned, the growth and the number of people participating. But it's not just individuals,there's a lot of organizational backing behind this program and this industry in general so.

So Jarod, it's been great talking to you, I've learned much. And I think people listen to this will learn a great deal about eSports and what it's doing at Waubonsee.

Why it's here and what it will bring in and I think it's really an exciting time and an exciting thing for students, for sure, and for the college. So look forward to having you back on and talking about this more maybe at the end of the season. And kinda see where we're at, see how it went.

And talk about the future of e-sports of Waubonsee.

>> Jarod Ericksen:

Yeah for sure, and you know if there's anybody out there who has any questions, any parents, any students that don't know what it is. And is interested in it, you can find me on our athletics page, you can send me an email.

I'd happily sit down with or have an email chain and kinda talk about what it is. And answer any questions you may have cuz if you're not involved, we do want you involved and come out and support us when you can.

>> Steven Miller:

Nice, nice, great, all right, thanks.

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