By Ruben Nieves
Kean’s Esports Arena has been officially opened. The arena on the second floor of the Green Lane building had its grand opening on March 15.
The new facility has brand new state-of-the-art equipment where student-athletes compete for their competitions.
Sporting Director Kelly Williams was thrilled when he saw the final completion of the arena.
“It puts us in a whole different world of Esports.” said Williams. “This facility is one of the few that is in the northeast and what we offer, few universities offer.”
The new arena allows different teams such as Valorant, Rocket League, Overwatch, League of Legends, Rainbow 6, Madden, NBA 2K and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate to have their own space to compete with the configuration of their gaming stations.
The main game station has a total of 12 PCs, six on each side and a main screen where students can come and support the team. Apart from the main game station, there are 24 PCs that can be used to play for free where Kean students can come and play from 12pm to 5pm Monday to Friday.
Outside the arena, there are TVs set up where students can plug in their consoles and play on the TVs there.
After seeing the arena’s completion, Head Coach Matt Czopik was excited about the future of the Esports program.
“A lot of our student-athletes have been waiting since we launched this program in the fall of 2021,” Czopik said. “This is a new chapter for our program, it gives our program a sense of legitimacy, professionalism, and it will certainly attract many current and future students who will want to compete and perform in our state-of-the-art arena.”
Czopik is amazed by the university’s support in the Esports program.
“The esports industry is still young, so a lot of universities haven’t really fully committed to and adopted an esports curriculum,” Czopik said. “The fact that Kean has embraced it, I think is incredible and shows how this program can really be student-focused and benefit students.”
Rocket League head coach Joe Sarnoski believes that with this new arena, it allows the students involved to be Kean athletes.
“We have a system that very few universities across the country have and we have something here where they play across the country,” Sarnoski said. “We give them that competitive opportunity and they become our Kean athletes and there’s nothing better than that for me.”
League of Legends player Gerald Davis was impressed with the new arena gear.
“My performance has increased dramatically,” Davis said. “It’s a better connection, better PCs, everything is super fast and super smooth.”
It has been announced by ECAC that 16 different universities across the country will join the conference. Czopik is excited to see the Kean Esports program compete with these various universities.
“That’s the best part of this program, the fact that we have the ability to compete with so many different schools across the country, ranging from Division III to Division I,” Czopik said. “As the CEAC Collegiate League grows, we will have the opportunity to compete with many other colleges across the United States.”
With their season over, the playoffs are about to begin. 6 of Kean’s Esports teams have reached the playoffs. Czopik saw an improvement from the Overwatch team and its player Madden.
“There have definitely been some brilliant improvements, like our player Madden got a better seed and our Overwatch team got a really solid record as well,” Czopik said. “But I think all of our teams have definitely pulled together and done a good job.”
With the playoffs set to begin on April 6, Czopik believes his team has a good chance of making the playoffs.
“I think they all have a good chance of going far, but the competition is fierce nonetheless,” Czopik said. “It really comes down to whoever comes on Wednesday (April 6) and Saturday (April 9) and seeing how they do and certainly as much support as we can get can really ultimately boost and create a lot of motivation for our teams.”
With the completion of the Esports Arena, Williams believes it will bring awareness to athletics in Kean.
“It’s a positive marketing tool and a great, cautious tool, there are so many people out there looking to find an opportunity to identify with a program at Kean,” Williams said. “Now we’re spreading our wings and diversifying our athletic department where you don’t have to be a baseball player or a 6’6 football player; we’re thrilled to be part of one of the few universities in this state to offer that at this level.