The 2023-2024 Academic Year is shaping up to be exciting for the OU Esports competitive teams.
With new teams, a new space to compete and Red River Rivalry and Bedlam coming up soon, there is a lot to look forward to this semester.
A new competitive program has joined OU Esports with the addition of Academy Chess. The formation of this team marks a new collaboration with OU Esports and the OU Chess Club.
Rylan “Wolfer” Lopez, founder of the Chess program, is thrilled to breathe new life into the chess scene at OU.
“Putting the chess team here has honestly been rather exciting, as this is something that OU has not had for a while,” Lopez said. “It feels great to be able to organize this again after the original club was damaged during COVID.”
Lopez has already been putting in work to expand OU’s ability to host local tournaments.
“We have recently been approved to host club level US Chess Federation tournaments, which is something I don’t believe OU has had on campus in a long time,” Lopez said. “It will be very exciting to see where this leads us in the future!”
In the meantime, Academy Chess will continue to host chess weeklies in Cross A on Wednesdays at 7 p.m.
Formed in late September 2022, the Splatoon 3 Academy Teams have established themselves as a cornerstone of OU Esports Competitive.
Benjamin “Clucks” Cruickshank, manager of the Splatoon 3 Academy Teams, has noted the progress Splatoon 3 has made since release.
“I feel the progress of the game has definitely improved, with a new DLC being announced for spring,” Cruickshank said. “It is one of Nintendo’s most regularly updated games so that really helps the game feel fresh.”
One year in, Cruickshank is also proud of the growth in the Academy Teams in the Collegiate Cephalopod Association (CCA).
“Both of the OU teams have shown major progress from each team, moving up 2 divisions since they both started,” Cruickshank said. “Both teams are looking good to take their divisions this year.”
This year, Cruickshank handled the summer recruitment process for the first time, and is honored by the general interest.
“Summer recruitment was definitely a hurdle that I had to jump as it was my first time doing a full recruitment other than creating the starting team,” Cruickshank said. “It really made Splatoon feel real to me because so many people wanted to join the team and be a part of the community.
“Seeing people really interested in a team that I started on a weekend thinking that it could die out in a single semester was really eye-opening for me.”
Along with playing in the CCA, OU Splat hopes to host events with the OU Gaming community. Their matches will be streamed by Cruickshank, so keep an eye out!
SIMRacing is another title which began in the 2022-23 academic year and has seen expansion with summer recruitment.
Mario “SuperMario” Merenda, founder of the SIMRacing Academy Team, is excited with the addition of a second driver.
“I think the program has come a long way,” Merenda said. “Last year, we qualified for every event, but I still wanted more. I think having another driver is helping with that. I’m helping Skye grow as a driver and a person, but now being a coach and a player is helping me grow as well.
Merenda has high hopes for the SIMRacing’s performance this year.
“I see us competing in the top 10 every event this year,” Merenda said. “I want to be a constant name on the broadcast representing OU. I want every race to be fighting up front for that prize money.”
Overall, Merenda is happy with SIMRacing’s progress, and with the progress of all of the teams under the new OU Esports Sports umbrella.
“SIMRacing and the Sports team in general at OU Esports is growing so fast,” Merenda said. “Madden is coming into 2024 with a stacked lineup. Here at SIMRacing, we have the first Esports NIL deal in the nation while also having more to come in the future.”
Red River Rivalry and Bedlam
OU will once again be participating in rivalry tournaments against the University of Texas and Oklahoma State University. These tournaments will be raising funds for OKC Children’s Hospital.
Joshua “Thumper” Riesenberg, the Esports Coordinator, is looking forward to the events.
“I’m excited about our collaboration with OKC Children’s Hospital,” Riesenberg said. “But also some new titles like Splatoon 3, Street Fighter 6, Mario Kart and our all new Call of Duty roster.”
For Reisenberg, Bedlam provides a special opportunity for the teams involved.
“One of the best parts of Bedlam is that we have a physical place to play at OSU and OU,” Riesenberg said.
Overall, Riesenberg is proud of the way the Esports communities are able to come together to do good.
“It’s important to remember that these are collaborative events,” Riesenberg said. “We’re still rivals, but we do our best for the charity and to provide Esports to the state.”
The latest installment of the Red River Rivalry series is slated for Oct. 27-29, and Bedlam will be Nov. 17-18.