A staple I do in all interviews in order to start things off is to ask that you tell us a bit about yourself and the connection you have to SAIT Esports?
Nick: My name is Nick Davies I am a SAIT alumnus and currently Sport Coordinator at SAIT in the Athletics & Recreation department. There is a team of sport coordinators in our department, that divides responsibility for SAIT’s offerings. Esports is one of the items in my portfolio. Essentially I am the project lead of SAIT Esports initiatives with our Director and Associate Director overseeing things.
I understand SAIT has been building an esports program, could you tell us some of the general goals of the program at the current moment and going forward?
Nick: Yes we are building an esports program. Some of the general goals would be community-building on our campus, plus increasing student success and opportunities. Currently, we are approaching this as an avenue to increase engagement for all current students. We are also using this as a way to shine a spotlight on many of the great resources that SAIT already has with facilities, technology and more. This will appeal to junior high and high school students when considering SAIT as a destination upon graduation.
SAIT has always been a pioneer as an institute of technology and we are expanding that draw by demonstrating the numerous avenues that esports can be a viable career path.
Going forward, we have big plans. This would look like everything from more Xboxes and dedicated gaming spaces in student residences all the way to a dedicated Esports ‘arena’ training facility on campus that doubles as a drop-in area for intramural and / or recreational space. In Fall 2020 we will also launch a varsity Trojans Esports program with student athletes and teams competing in a number of titles TBD. There is also plans to host a major event complete with two live tournaments and an educational series with speakers and industry-leading experts.
An upcoming tournament is going to feature Overwatch and League of Legends, could you tell us a bit about why those games were chosen, along with how people can get involved?
Nick: This is event I mentioned previously. Originally it was slated for May 1-2, but of course delayed. We planned to use this event as a segway into building momentum and launching an Esports program in fall 2020. Now we are aiming for fall - September 25/26th. Reason we chose OW and LoL was based on recommendations from industry leaders (brands, companies, and individuals) in the Calgary gaming community.
We felt that there was enough current interest in our existing student population and alum to coordinate teams for those two titles. On top of that, we knew that other local schools - in particular U of C and MRU - already have existing programs or clubs that have teams competing in those titles that would open the door to future competitions.
There will also be other live side tournaments featuring numerous titles (Rocket League, Super Smash Bros., nhl, NBA 2K, Street Fighter, Fortnite, etc.) at the event in the free play area.
Info to get involved is to check out sait.ca/esports for updates or send any email inquiries, questions, interest to trojans.gaming @sait.ca. Also join our SAIT Esports discord channel: https://discordapp.com/invite/G2z75Ww
We are looking for everything from: participants, spectators, vendors to shoutcasters, analysts and commentators for the tournaments.
Do you see this program expanding in the future?
Nick: To be honest I see it doing nothing but expanding. Even since the initial planning stages, the Esports movement at SAIT has already grown immensely. So far, the majority of those we connect with and share the enthusiasm we have for our vision. The Esports space is constantly evolving at a global level and we feel the need to do our part to be a local driver pushing that movement forward.
Looking at the setup for this particular tournament, could you go through the process of qualifying, and then what the main competition at SAIT will look like?
Nick: Participants can compete in seeding tournaments on two dates (per game) to earn points leading up to competing in the main event. You aren’t required to participate in the earlier seeding rounds, but there are incentives like prizes, etc for participating teams.
Full event rules are available on the sait.ca/esports page through registration links. To sum it up - essentially an overwatch tournament on Friday, and League of Legends tournament on Saturday.
During preliminary rounds and breaks in tournament play there will be sessions hosted by streamers, influencers and brands like Memory Express, Microsoft, Dell, Shaw and more. (Some are confirmed, others still in talks so a full list will be posted to the website when contracts are finalized.)
We are also in talks with other post secondary institutions in North America to attend the event as a ‘challenge component’ to allow the tournament champions to face off against a collegiate team.
While the competitive tournaments are running, on the other side of the venue will be a Free Play/recreational space hosting other mini tournaments, showcased technology, and more.
I saw that Microsoft and Memory Express were involved with the tournament, could you tell us how those groups factor into the event?
Nick: Memory Express stepped up huge from the start, committing 40+ high performance gaming PCs for use in the tournament portions of the event.
Microsoft is also providing equipment for the event (high performance gaming laptops, Xbox consoles, etc.) hosting the seeding rounds, providing tournament prizing.
Both are also helping with promotion and coordination/logistics of the event as well as the speaker series component.
Esports is growing considerably year on year, when did SAIT get involved and what was the process like in getting tournaments setup?
Nick: SAIT has been involved for a couple years hosting a smaller console tournament or two at our campus pub and featuring gaming offerings with our summer camps.
Process of getting things set up in the past was basically A&R department driving the ship with some involvement from SAIT’s student association.
This endeavour is much different as we have backing from the executives, several departments and programs. We have gone from a host of small community events to now aiming to be an eventual leader & innovator in post secondary esports in North America.
Lastly I would like to leave a spot for you to say something or go over anything I might have missed during the interview?
Nick: Basically if you are someone who is a current SAIT student we are looking to reach you to bring you into our community. Best place is to join the discord. We aren’t set on the teams Trojans Esports is fielding come fall because it will be based on student interest.
We are also anticipating a lot of high school student interest both in the event and in Trojans Esports and we encourage it. Anyone interested in making SAIT their destination of choice and joining Trojans Esports should contact Trojans.email@example.com.
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