This week the University of Redlands Rocket League Team competed in the Collegiate Rocket League spring championships in Minneapolis and made it to the top four and won for the western conference. The team which consists of University of Redlands students Blaise Zingale ’19, Jose Parral ’19, and Sebastian Smith ’21 walked away with $7,500 in winnings.
Rocket League, a video game that was first released in 2015 by Psyonix, “is like playing soccer but with cars that can fly,” says Parral. Each game is played in a digital arena environment by a single player or teams of three, and the team that scores the most points in a five-minute-long game wins.
As esports—a form of competition using multiplayer video games—have grown in popularity, many collegiate esports teams have sprung up at colleges and universities. The National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE) now includes 140 institutions in 41 states with formal esports organizations. Some universities are even recruiting talented players with scholarships—NACE reports that $15 million was awarded in esports scholarships for the 2018-2019 school year.
At the University of Redlands, esports have grown as an expression of student interest. Zingale and Parral, who have been roommates for years at the University of Redlands, played Rocket League recreationally for two years before deciding to register for this year’s competition; Parral then recruited Smith to join them after meeting him in an engineering seminar.