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It’s just like any other sporting event. It has the teams, the competition, the jerseys, and the sold-out arenas filled with thousands of screaming fans. Just swap the field for a gaming console and there you have it: esports.

Colleges across the United States have developed esports programs in which teams of students work together to train and compete with other college teams nationwide. UT has its very own club devoted to this booming industry, the UT Esports Club.

Esports—short for electronic sports—is a global phenomenon, with professional gamers competing in organized video game tournaments in front of live and streaming audiences. These competitions involve games from a variety of genres such as real-time strategy, multiplayer online battle arena, and one-on-one fighting.

Since 2015, the club has grown to include more than 270 registered members. It hosts 14 competitive teams that regularly compete in national collegiate gaming leagues including TESPA, the American Video Game League, and the Collegiate Star League. Each team specializes in a specific game. Teams practice and prepare to compete in tournaments for such popular titles as League of Legends, Rocket League,and Fortnite.

The club, however, is not just for those interested in competition. Jason Smethers, a data analyst for the College of Arts and Sciences and club advisor, explains that they host gaming for everyone.

“A club like this is meant to bring games out of the dorm room,” Smethers said, adding that it’s a place for anyone who is interested in gaming to meet other people and make friends.

The club hosts casual game nights every other Friday for its members and any UT students interested in joining the club. During these events, students are able to play a number of games on the multiple consoles available to them.

Dozens of students have found a place to belong within the club. Its president, marketing senior Michael Slandzicki, has been an active member since his freshman year in 2015. As a founding member, he has seen the club grow and develop over the last four years. He says he couldn’t imagine what his college experience would have been like without it.

“It’s pretty unique to the campus,” Slandzicki said. “There’s not really a spot elsewhere for people to just play video games.”

As the club continues to develop, its leaders are confident in the future success of their teams. The esports industry is growing rapidly, and the club hopes to expand its visibility on campus and garner more support from the UT community.

Those interested in learning more can reach out to Smethers at esports@utk.edu for more information.