Epsorts enthusiasts at Ontario Tech have a new home for gaming, just steps away from Durham College’s own esports arena.
The Ontario Tech Student Union (OTSU) unveiled the arena in Shawenjigewining Hall at 40 Founders Dr.
The arena is equipped with 12 PCs that will be used for hosting competitive collegiate games and community events such as weekly casual game nights, multi-league tournaments and intramurals.
The OTSU combined its esports clubs into a blanket OTSU esports organization. The program is made up of ten teams that play several games including Valorant, Overwatch 2, League of Legends, Hearthstone, Call of Duty, Fortnite, Rocket League, Eternal Return, Beat Saber and Rainbow Six Siege.
Josh Sankarlal, president of the OTSU, says the new arena was part of the plan during construction of Shawenjigewining Hall.
“The arena I think was built just because we noticed that there was such a huge demand on campus for esports-related services,” he says. “Also, the OTSU esports Discord server is one of the largest Discord communities on campus.”
He says the OTSU wanted to jump on students’ growing esports enthusiasm as soon as possible.
“It’s just kind of in line with what other institutions have been doing,” he says.
“I think as people realize that esports is becoming just as popular as traditional varsity sports we wanted to get in early and meet that demand before it was something that you could just expect at all campuses, so it’s something unique that the OTSU offers.”
Zaeem Khalid, an esports executive at Ontario Tech and current manager of the League of Legends team, says the new arena will help build rapport and harmony among the team, specifically after the pandemic.
“This new arena is very essential to team communication, especially because of COVID. It’s very difficult to arrange practices when you’re online,” he says, “and having the arena actually allows everyone to come in, communicate and establish that team bond.”
The OTSU esports arena is now the second arena on campus. Durham College’s is located in the Student Centre building.
Sinthu Uthayanan, project coordinator at the OTSU, says Ontario Tech students wanted their own home for esports.
“Our club was one of the most popular clubs, the OTSU saw that as an opportunity to build upon it and offer more support for it,” he says. “Durham College provided a lot of support for their esports program by building their own space…the OTSU started to think we should do it too.”
Uthayanan says a major problem with the Durham College arena was the fee that non-DC students had to pay to use it.
“Ontario Tech students were allowed to play there but they had to pay a fee, but for our space it’s completely free for all Ontario Tech students.”
The fees required to use the OTSU arena are already paid by Ontario Tech students through ancillary fees. However, DC students are not permitted to play in the new arena.
Khalid says multiple arenas will lead to improved competition between the schools.
“I think it’s gonna be kind of a nice little competition in a good sense because it will allow various teams to be able to get their practices and by doing that teams are going to get better,” he says.
Sankaral says he doesn’t think there will quarrels due to the close proximity of the arenas.
“I don’t imagine that there’s going to be a lot of conflict just because of our close working relationship with the DCSA. We’ll be able to compliment each other really nicely,” he says.
The arena is open every day from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Changes to the schedule will be posted on the Discord server.