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BW esports program opens new practice and competition space 

Yellow Jacket esports teams have been ramping up varsity competition over the past year and recently cut the ribbon on a new facility that is allowing them to “set a new standard” for gameplay.


The Baldwin Wallace University community got a look inside BW’s newly renovated esports facility after the snip of a ribbon on the Friday of Bold & Gold Homecoming weekend.  

The ribbon cutting and open house event in Loomis Hall highlighted the future of BW's competitive gaming program. Following fall 2023 tryouts, more than 45 students are now competing in three leagues during this second varsity esports season in BW history.  Five BW varsity and three academy teams (junior varsity) are slated to compete in five esports titles this spring: Call of Duty, Rocket League, Overwatch, Super Smash and Valorant.

“Our hashtag this year is #SettingTheStandard,” explains Jake Grasso, director of esports. “Last year, we didn’t quite have the resources to be at our best. That’s all changed. We have high-end equipment and are preparing in a way that will be the standard for collegiate esports in the future.” 

Coaching teams to success 

BW esports director Jake Grasso relaxes in the new, on-campus practice and competition facility.

Loc Wilson '27, a communications studies major from Cincinnati, had never heard of BW before Grasso recruited him to play varsity Rocket League. "I played in high school, and when Jake reached out, I took a visit and loved the program and where it's headed."

The program also attracted four volunteer esports coaches this fall. Adjacent to the new competition space, there’s a wired conference room for coaches and players to watch and analyze VOD (film) of past performances and upcoming opponents.

That preparation is leading BW teams to log some impressive early success for such a young varsity program. The Super Smash team is currently undefeated in both National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE) and Great Lakes Esports Conference (GLEC) play (3-0 and 5-0 respectively). Yellow Jacket gamers competing in Valorant started 2-0 in GLEC. 

Provided they keep winning and qualify, the plan is to allow each team to travel to one conference LAN event this year. LAN stands for Local Area Network and simply means that the teams play each other in the same room, in person, rather than playing over the internet from their home schools. 

Communications major Loc Wilson '27 was recruited from a Cincinnati-area high school to play varsity Rocket League at BW.

Experiential learning and camaraderie

Matt Weaver '23, who graduates this fall with an accounting and finance degree, plays Call of Duty with a team of mostly first-year students that he's taken under his wing. Weaver says esports develops leadership and teamwork skills. "A lot of gamers are introverts, and playing our favorite games as a team allows us to connect and enjoy camaraderie, too."

Beyond high-level varsity competition, BW's esports program also features a recreation club open to anyone at any level and a host of paid and volunteer student support roles in social media management, photography and video editing, stats and broadcast/live stream management.  

“The need for a supporting cast to run Twitch channels, where live streams of our competitions take place, has opened up positions for student camera operators, broadcasters, audio-visual mixers and more,” says Grasso. “We’re working with BW Communication Arts & Sciences to build up these experiential learning opportunities in media production.”  

Expanding opportunities 

The official ribbon-cutting ceremony drew a crowd including BW President Bob Helmer and VP for Student Affairs Timeka Rashid.

The new space near BW broadcast studios is making a big difference in that collaboration. “Now we have a dedicated stream space as we work with communications to utilize the TV studio,” Grasso notes. “That enables us to add more sophisticated transitions and broadcast elements.”  

The BW Twitch channel recently achieved Affiliate status, which allows for ad revenue, and new streams on both YouTube and Facebook have been added.  

The reimagined esports facilities were completed in-house with Grasso and BW recreation director Rob Becker designing the spaces and BW Buildings and Grounds bringing their vision to life, with a splash of graphic design power from BW University Relations. BW IT installed dedicated, high-speed internet access to keep the gamers connections humming.

Room to grow 

Sport Management major Ben Cuomo '26 stays focused as a duelist on the Valorant squad.

The new space also supports BW’s vision for the esports program to grow. Grasso says goals include:  

  • Establishing varsity and academy teams for all five titles currently offered.
  • Attracting outside sponsors.
  • Drawing 75-100 students participating in competition or support roles.
  • Winning conference championships in each title.
  • Educating the community on the benefits of esports. 

“We really want to continue bringing in individuals with a hard-working mentality that can contribute to our overall success,” Grasso concludes. “We are really starting to get known in the local scene, but the end goal is to be nationally recognized.”   

To keep up with BW Esports’ quest for success, find team news and/or live streams via Twitch and on a variety of social media channels, including X (formerly Twitter), Instagram, TikTok, Facebook and YouTube. 

BW varsity Rocket League team competes in a league match.


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