A new state-of-the-art esports hub at Conestoga College’s Waterloo campus is giving students a place to come together while providing the school’s two varsity esports teams with a place to train.
The esports hub is on the second floor of the main building at the Waterloo campus. It features 36 super computers and multiple gaming consoles that can be reserved by students.
Anyone who books time on a machine can access a free library of games in the hub.
Six of the 36 computers are dedicated to the Conestoga Condors’ League of Legends and Rocket League athletes for training.
According to Michael Cole, the Condors Rocket League team lead, the hub helps the team practice and compete together in person instead of only online.
Michael Cole practicing in the new Esports Hub at Conestoga College. (Colton Wiens/CTV News)
“Just being able to look down the line of computers and see my teammates, if one of them makes a mistake, it’s easy to look next to me and say ‘no problem, we’ll get it back,’ versus online you can’t really see your teammate’s reactions,” Cole said.
“I’ve been able to meet my fellow players and have them in the hub. The energy is just so much different. It’s good for building team rapport and team chemistry.”
The college started building the hub during the pandemic, saying it was able to put more focus on esports during that time.
“We couldn’t participate in our typical varsity sports and were able to put a lot of energy into something like this and engage with our students,” said Trish Weigel Green, the associate vice-president of student affairs at Conestoga College.
Plans are also in the works to use the space for academic programming through the school of business and the school of creative industries.
“Broadcast, as it relates to esports, is actually quite different than a typical broadcast that we might be familiar with. From a business perspective, it’s the business of esports, which is a multi-billion dollar business across the world right now,” Weigel Green said.
The two Condors esports teams compete in Ontario Post-Secondary Esports (OPSE). Unlike traditional varsity athletics, colleges and universities compete against each other in the OPSE, which organizers say helps give more opportunity for local rivalries.
“That’s something you don’t really see in traditional sports. We love the opportunity where we can get the Conestoga Condors playing against the Waterloo Warriors,” James Fitzgerald, commissioner of OPSE said.
The new hub is the first of its kind in Waterloo region, and experts think the hub can help put the area on the esports map.
“We’re figuring out where our spot is in that landscape, but this gives us another option. We’ve got great venues like The Aud or Bingeman’s that can host big events. This gives us a good smaller venue that’s ready to go, plug and play,” said Allister Scorgie, the director of sport hosting with Explore Waterloo Region.
Scorgie said the new space at Conestoga College is another step forward in his goal to make the region a national hub for esports.