Call of Duty team

ATHENS — A local institution of higher learning that became the first in West Virginia to enter the world of esports video gaming competition now has its first team signed up.

Concord University Esports Head Coach Jacob Neerland announced the signing Friday of the program’s first varsity players. These initial team members are Jamie Nickell of Lewisburg; Chase Daffron of McKinzie, Tenn.; and Andrew Thompson of Prince George, Va.

As members of CU’s “Call of Duty” team, the three students will start competing for Concord during the upcoming fall semester. With practice already underway, Neerland said he is eager for competition to begin.

“I’m confident this core will be able to take down any team we go up against, and we have our eyes set on the national championship,” he said.

Neerland said that he is also recruiting for two additional eSports teams that will represent Concord – “Overwatch” and “League of Legends.” CU’s eSports teams are registered with the National Association of Collegiate Esports.

Back in February, Concord University became the first public college or university in West Virginia to offer varsity eSports to its students. Along with providing an opportunity for competitive collegiate play, the university is setting up an eSports gaming arena on campus in the Nick Rahall Technology Center.

Instead of being an extracurricular activity, the program will be a varsity sport on the university’s roster. The teams will be competitively playing video games. When the university announced its plans to form a team, Lindsey Reed-Byars of Concord’s Office of Advancement, said eSports are as competitive as other organized sports.

Concord’s student population overwhelmingly showed an interest in the program, university officials said. There are teams both nationally and globally, and the sport also attracts spectators from around the world.

“This is a huge growing sensation. It isn’t really seasonal so it can happen all year long,” Byars said then.

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