Release Date: November 30, 2020
BUFFALO, N.Y. – The University at Buffalo’s Rainbow 6 Siege esports team won championship honors in the inaugural SUNY Esports League season, which for about one month beginning in October connected more than 1,000 players on 342 registered teams from across 45 SUNY colleges and universities.
In addition to the SUNY league championship, UB’s Esports Rocket League team finished sixth last semester in the Esports Collegiate Conference semester-long tournament and also won the national 2020 College League of Legends Fall Invitational through PlayVS.
With the pandemic restricting sports activity this year, SUNY partnered with the cloud-driven networking company Extreme Networks and LeagueSpot, a tournament engine platform, to launch higher education’s first-ever system wide esports league as a means of providing students with safe, socially distanced competition.
The SUNY Esports League is the larger scaled extension of a successful three-week tournament organized last spring by SUNY and Extreme Network. The new league more than doubles the number of spring participants.
SUNY recognized a need for the tournament when its campuses adopted distance-learning models with the start of New York on Pause. The increased participation from spring to fall speaks to the general enthusiasm surrounding esports, and the league in particular.
“I was thrilled to enter into this space and offer our students the opportunity to build community and engage with students who otherwise may not be involved in co-curricular activities, especially during this unique fall semester when so many students faced challenges in making connections,” said Christina Hernandez, UB’s interim vice president for student life. “Giving students an opportunity to both participate and cheer on their teams created engagement at all levels of competition: informal, club and collegiate.
“I’m proud of our students’ participation and congratulate all of the teams who participated in this inaugural season.”
Other fall champions of the SUNY League’s first season include Binghamton University (Call of Duty and Valorent), Stony Brook (Rocket League), SUNY Plattsburgh (SSBU), SUNY Cobleskill (Fortnite), and Westchester Community College (Smite).
The Rainbow 6 Siege champions are UB’s 21st century pioneers who join an historic list of competitive firsts that include the 19th-century arrival of football on campus and the early 20th-century introduction of the university’s basketball team.
UB (then the University of Buffalo) organized and supported teams in the past because of student interest in collegiate level competition.
The same is true for esports.
The venture is still relatively new at colleges across the country, and UB has entered the esports arena based on its popularity with students and the potential offered by esports.
“This is something that students want to do, and we can now offer this activity and provide those students with a chance to compete at a national level,” says Mike Yates, assistant director for university apartments, who works with Student Life as the esports collegiate coordinator.
Yates says UB will also compete next semester within the Esports Collegiate Conference in Overwatch and League of Legends.
“We’re on the cusp of something great,” says Yates, who encourages anyone interested in learning more about the SUNY League to visit the UB Esports Discord.