May 6, 2022

UCalgary students spearhead esport competition built around popular Valorant videogame

Hosted by Schulich School of Engineering, 16 multi-player teams also raised money for SU Campus Food Bank
UCalgary students recently took part in a Valorant esports tournament for charity at the Schulich School of Engineering. Fritz Tolentino

It’s one of the fastest-growing video games in the world with an average player count of 13 million monthly active users.

For a couple of hours on a recent Monday afternoon, a room in the Schulich School of Engineering (SSE) was transformed into a bustling hub for Valorant players in the University of Calgary’s first esports tournament.

After months of planning and preparations by Information Technologies, SSE, the Engineering Students’ Society, and the Faculty of Kinesiology, 16 student teams battled for ultimate bragging rights on April 11 while raising money for the SU Campus Food Bank.

“We’re extremely proud to have hosted this charity event,” says Schulich Dean Bill Rosehart. “It brought students from across the university together for some fun and for a great cause.”

Multi-player action

Rosehart first met with Engineering Students’ Society president Katrina Chanco in November 2021 to talk about creating an esports tournament.

Collaborating with UCalgary Active Living, more people were brought into the fold in hopes of putting together a top-notch event.

According to Chanco, countless hours of conversations – not just internally but with other schools about similar kinds of events – were key to pulling it off.

“I couldn’t be more proud of all of their efforts and hard work towards making this event an amazing experience for the students,” she says. “I also want to recognize our student volunteers, whose invaluable expertise in Valorant, live-streaming and event logistical execution, really helped bring the tournament to the next level.”

The game itself is a character-based, first-person hero shooter set in the near future, with players taking part in teams of five.

Please play again

The popularity of esports is undeniable, as it has become a multi-billion dollar industry with a growing international audience and is even to the point of becoming a varsity sport at some post-secondary institutions.

Organizers here also view the event as an opportunity to engage students in non-traditional sports.

“The potential is huge,” says Ian Munn, UCalgary’s supervisor of recreational sports. “With this kind of collaboration, we could perhaps have monthly tournaments or even league play.”

After seeing the turnout and the excitement, Rosehart believes Schulich has a hit on its hands.

“I’m really impressed with how this all turned out,” he says. “We now have the building blocks and a solid foundation for the future, not just for events but for student engagement, as well.”