Calvin University's official student newspaper since 1907

Calvin University Chimes

Since 1907
Calvin University's official student newspaper since 1907

Calvin University Chimes

Calvin University's official student newspaper since 1907

Calvin University Chimes

Calvin Esports looks to build off first tournament win

Jacob DeJong
The team won their first tournament recently.

Calvin University’s Esports club won their first conference tournament on Mar. 20 when the Valorant team placed first at the Block House Esports League (BEL) Conference Finals.

The team traveled to Alma, Michigan to compete in the first annual Valorant conference championships. The BEL consists of other Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) member schools. 

The top four teams advanced to the semi-finals. The Knights made it out of pool play as the fourth seed to take on first-seeded Alma College, winning the best of three 2-0. In the championship round, the Knights took down second-seeded Trine University 2-0.

Senior Jacob DeJong was a late addition to the team but played a pivotal role in winning the championship. Before DeJong joined, the team only had four consistent players competing while a fifth player switched in and out. DeJong added consistency to the lineup that allowed for better team chemistry and communication.

 “Jacob coming in late in the season was a big deal. But I mean, they — just through the talent they had and the teamwork and cooperation — they were able to come in and dominate in pretty resounding fashion,” faculty advisor and coach Ross Burkholder told Chimes.

Playing at an in-person tournament was a first for DeJong, who felt it was very different compared to playing online. “It was really cool to compete in person, it just feels so cool to have your teammates next to you cheering,” DeJong told Chimes.

Calvin’s Esports club was created in fall 2021; it grew out of a general video game club. Since then, the club has grown in both popularity and level of competitiveness. Joining the BEL in its inaugural season was a significant step towards building a more consistent footing in the competitive scene, according to Burkholder. Riding the high of the improvements already made, the team is looking to continue its growth.

Burkholder is “most optimistic about the future of the club sport this year.”

This past season, the team has been operating without a budget — similar to most club sports on campus. Next year the team is set to have a budget and a new room to host practices in. Currently, the team practices in their dorms or their houses online without having a shared building space. Having a space is at the top of Burkholder’s priorities. “That’s our biggest hurdle at the moment, I think, is having a space for the Esports team to compete in but also to meet and practice in,” Burkholder says.

Both DeJong and Burkholder believe that the future improvements to the Esports club could be an admission draw for prospective students looking to compete in collegiate esports. “It’ll be a great spot on campus that could be good for the community and as an admission draw,” DeJong said. Burkholder receives emails from high school students and coaches asking about Calvin’s program. “By the time they’re here, it’ll be really good,” Burkholder said.

Burkholder believes the program’s future is in strong hands in terms of talent level. From the three competitive teams, they are only losing two seniors to graduation, with the rest of the team returning. The Super Smash Bros Ultimate team consisting of mainly sophomores placed fourth out of six teams in the tournament last fall but did receive an award for being the best up-and-coming team in the conference.

Calvin Esports currently has 3 different video game teams: Super Smash Bros Ultimate, Valorant and Apex Legends, but is looking to expand to more games — including Rocket League — in the near future.

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