A trio of Cougars will represent Washington State University next year on a virtual pitch against other Power Five conference schools from across the country.
The game of choice: Rocket League, where players work together via computers or game consoles piloting jet-boosted cars to fire an oversized digital soccer ball into the opposing team’s goal.
The three-man team is led by Bobby Belter, a computer science senior who is also the president of the WSU Esports Club. Joining him are juniors James Madamba – who studies management information services – and Glen Bennett, an electrical engineering major. Belter and Madamba have spent a significant portion of their time at WSU playing Rocket League together, with Bennett joining the roster about a month ago.
“Succeeding in Rocket League requires players to be constantly moving and communicating,” Bennett said, “rotating where they need to be and assisting their teammates with scoring or defending.”
WSU is among several Power Five schools competing in the inaugural Electronic Gaming Federation’s upcoming invitation being held in New York City Jan. 18 and 19. Before they get there, however, the WSU squad faces four weeks of preliminary matches beginning Nov. 3 against the likes of Louisiana State University and Georgetown University to determine tournament seeding.
The EGF Power Five Esports Invitational is being broadcast on the organizer’s Twitch page – a website where viewers can watch the action unfold live and cheer them on in the comments.
WSU’s Esports club was founded in 2015 and boasts an array of games members play cooperatively and competitively. Students from across the WSU system participate in the club, playing competitively and cooperatively with their peers regardless of their campus. Belter became the club’s president in the summer of 2018, which he balances alongside playing Rocket league, attending classes and working part time for the university. Both Madamba and Bennett also have busy schedules to manage alongside their participation on the team.
“I try to get all of my classwork done by 9 p.m.,” Bennett said. “That way I can set aside a few hours at night to grind Rocket League.”
Belter started playing Rocket League during his senior year of high school. Madamba was busy with other games, but saw a Twitch stream of competitive play and picked it up soon after. Bennett saw a friend playing, goofed around playing it for about a month and got hooked.
WSU’s Rocket League team also wrapped up collegiate play earlier this year as part of the game maker’s sponsored championship.
More information about the WSU Esports Club can be found on their Twitter.