Quinnipiac hosts thrilling CIAC eSports PlayVS State Tournament Competition

December 19, 2023

Students participating in the CIAC Esports Tournament use the Esports Lab at Quinnipiac.

Fast and furious screen action thrilled a crowd of spectators, as six high school teams battled it out at the 2023 fall CIAC eSports PlayVS State Tournament Competition hosted by Quinnipiac on December 15.

Held in the state-of-the-art Rocky Top Student Center on the York Hill Campus, the tournament drew a live audience to watch gamers compete for one of three titles: Rocket League, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Mario Kart.

As teams went head-to-head at gaming PCs in the student center eSports lab, their play was live-cast on the center’s big screen and viewed by online audiences statewide. Quinnipiac students and staff called the play-by-play action, including casters Andrew Samatulski, Julius Millan, Jonathan Mason, Peter Howarth and Nicholas Vial.

CIAC Director of Student Activities Cherese Odukwe said eSports tournaments began in 2019 and have been held at Quinnipiac since the fall of 2022.

“This is our third state championship here. Quinnipiac works very well with us to make sure that we have everything we need to provide a great experience, so we love our partnership. We all have one common goal, and that is to provide a great experience for the students,” said Odukwe.

With assistance from Quinnipiac, CIAC has ramped up the tournament experience since the competition’s return to in-person play following the pandemic, said Odukwe.

“Going through the pandemic, everything had to go back to virtual, so students weren’t able to have this sort of experience. At Quinnipiac, they’ve come together again and are able to compete with each other face-to-face in a nice environment that’s very uplifting,” she said.

High school junior Michael Volpe, 16, a gamer on Danbury’s Immaculate High School Mario Kart team, said having the teams come together at Quinnipiac’s Rocky Top Student Center and compete in the eSports lab created an exciting and different experience.
“There’s only so many people that got this far, and you’re one of them. The new environment here is kind of cool, but also definitely more nerve-racking! Instead of just being behind our screens, we’re going to be sitting right across from them, face-to-face,” said Volpe.

Volpe’s coach, David Quesnell, said participating in the CIAC tournament at Quinnipiac was an impressive milestone that was just setting in with his team, here for the first time.

“It’s really big for them. It really shows that eSports is growing, and it’s a great opportunity to bring some relevance to eSports. It really is just like the other sports competing in a state championship,” said Quesnell.

Sheehan High School Titans coach and Bobcat alumnus Jason Morosky, MS ’18, was thrilled to return to his alma mater with his team to play rocket-powered car soccer against Hall High School of West Hartford. The Sheehan gamers clinched the Rocket League 2023 CIAC state championship medals and trophy.

“I’m super-pumped to be here with them, and to be in this tournament. This is their first time here, and people recognize the CIAC. This trophy means something,” said Morosky.

Quinnipiac Recreation Director Michael Medina said the university welcomes its partnership with CIAC in hosting the prestigious post-season championship.

“The CIAC is Connecticut’s state governing body for all high school athletics, and eSports is one of their up-and-coming sports right now,” said Medina. “It’s such a fun event, and it’s great exposure for these students who might not necessarily get exposed to a collegiate recruiting process. This is at a grass-roots level right now, and the growth that we’ve seen with more schools getting involved, and more students getting involved in game design and computer science, is a great tie-in to our exciting academic majors at Quinnipiac.”

Quinnipiac Director of Game Design & Development Elena Bertozzi welcomed the tournament’s high school gamers to the home of the Bobcats. She invited them to learn more about Quinnipiac’s annual eSports summer camp, as well as the university’s Game Design & Development major.

“We know that all of the main transformational technologies, like AR and VR and headsets and now AI, have really come through game design,” said Bertozzi. “We have quite a few members of the Quinnipiac eSports team that are also game design majors. We have a really great major, with a lot of fantastic faculty.”

CIAC eSports Committee Chairman Sean Tomany thanked Quinnipiac for its continuing support of the CIAC eSports PlayVS State Tournament.

“I want to recognize Quinnipiac for seeing the value and the newness of what eSports is. As we’re entering into this realm, we’re changing the mindset of what eSports is, and Quinnipiac is seeing that value,” said Tomany.

Stay in the Loop

Sign Up Now