Alexander Luzula/Contributing Writer
FIU’s Panther E-sports Department celebrated its launch as an official school-sanctioned competitive organization with a launch week packed with events.
Lasting from June 20 to 24, the E-sports Department hosted live streams, panels and more in the Graham Center Pit, including a Super Smash Bros tournament.
After a 4-hour tournament and several rounds of virtual combat, Samuel Castro came out on top as the first-place winner.
An avid Smash Bros player since the age of eight, Castro is glad FIU is debuting their E-sports program and says his victory shows “how funny and entertaining Smash can be, and that’s what I want, because I want E-sports to be big.”
After 4 hours of competitive gameplay, Samuel Castro (middle) took first place in a competitive Smash Bros tournament. “It feels good [to win],” says Castro. “I want everyone to know how funny and entertaining Smash Bros can be.” / Alex Lazula, PantherNOW
He also says that FIU sponsoring and officially launching an E-sports program will benefit FIU’s gaming community, as FIU has some of the best players in Florida.
“We could be doing great things if we had an E-Sports program,” said Castro.
Student E-sports Coordinator Kevin Quiroga likewise has high hopes and ambitions for the project.
Focusing on the three pillars of the program: community, competition and intramural, he eagerly looks forward to the E-sports Arena that will be included in the new SIPA II building opening this fall and hopes to ensure the program runs smoothly.
“There’s so much benefit, there are careers, there are endless possibilities that these people can have with gaming. It’s really wonderful to see that. We give the students here an opportunity to show off their talents and build upon that,” said E-sports intern Patrick Cornejo.
With the launch of the E-sports program, he hopes that it will help break the stereotype of a gamer as being someone isolated in their room all day, as well as shine a light on the talented players at FIU.
“There’s not a lot of talk with the E-sports community here, “ says Cornejo. “Our Valorant community has people competing at the professional level, beating professional teams and even now with the smash tournament that we had. We have almost the top 10 in South Florida. It’s amazing to see how FIU is growing and the future’s very bright with E-sports.”
The Launch Week is only the beginning for the Panther E-sports Program. As the new E-sports Arena opening in the SIPA II building approaches in the fall of 2022, the staff are fast at work promoting and reaching out to an untapped community in FIU for a successful start into the next semester.
Two players go head to head during a 4 hour Smash Bros tournament. “I feel like [FIU establishing an E-Sports program] is great, it brings a lot of people out of their shell and gives a lot of people the chance to connect with a lot of people who they would otherwise not gotten to meet and share a common interest with,” says gamer and audience member Javier Avila. / Alex Lazula, PantherNOW