‘Virtual’ opening date set for Durham’s esports arena

The DC Lords' logo references the opening of the esports arena April 2. Photo credit: Dakota Evans

After months of delays, Durham College’s (DC) new $800,000 esports arena will officially open April 2.

The facility, located in the Student Centre, was originally supposed to open in December but encountered some setbacks.

It will be home to DC’s varsity esports teams and also available to recreational gamers.

The arena will be shown off as part of a soft-launch “preview” during DC’s Open House on March 23, for prospective students to view, according to Bart Lucyk, a DC logistical service worker who is preparing the space.

The arena is having its floors sanded and redone prior to the launch.

The arena has transformed the former student hangout spot – E.P. Taylor’s pub – into a competitive keyboard-mashing gaming zone.

All the equipment, chairs and computers will be delivered on March 1, to start getting the arena prepared, Lucyk says.

Originally set to have 60 high-end gaming computers, the arena has been reconfigured for spacing reasons to house 46 high-end computers each valued at about $3,000, according to Lucyk. The computers are supplied by Lenovo, he adds.

There will be three adjustable desks for people who require different heights, he adds.

Monster Energy will also be supplying the arena with DXRacer gaming chairs and six gaming consoles that will be housed there, Lucyk says.

To use the computers in the arena, DC students, alumni or faculty will have to pay with debit or credit and supply identification. UOIT students are not permitted to use the space, Lucyk says.

Use of the equipment will cost $3.75 plus tax per hour or people attending can buy a package deal of three hours for $10 plus tax, says Lucyk, adding use of the consoles will be free.

The arena will hold public tournaments for students of DC as well as private tournaments specifically for Lords’ varsity teams.

“Student gamers are allowed to bring their own peripherals as long as the main ones aren’t unplugged or moved,” says Lucyk.

Ken Babcock, director of athletics for Durham College. Photo credit: Courtesy of Durham College athletics

While the launch progress of the arena has been moving along at a slow pace, that hasn’t stopped the DC Lords’ varsity teams from competing against other post-secondary institutions.

“Our Counter Strike team is ranked number one in North America for post-secondary,” says Ken Babcock, athletics director for DC.

The varsity teams recently attended a three-day gaming convention in Montreal where they competed against other institutions, he adds.

Mitchell Bizjak, captain of the Durham Lords Hearthstone team. Photo credit: Courtesy of Durham College athletics

In fact, esports athlete Mitchell Bizjak, captain of the Hearthstone team, was recently named Durham’s athlete of the week, after finishing second out of 56 participants at the LAN ETS 2019 event in Montreal.