Penn State Esports Reaches Collegiate Rocket League National Championships
Penn State Esports made a splash in the Collegiate Rocket League playoffs to claim the east division title this season and was awarded a shot at a national title over the weekend in Arlington, Texas.
Comprised of DaCota “Doodle” Eaton, Jonathan “Wild” Heller, and Austin “Tennismaster11” Pietrak, Penn State finished in fourth following two tight losses to North Texas and Akron. The event was the first LAN event — where teams come together and connect a series of computers to compete simultaneously — for the Collegiate Rocket League finals.
Not many in the esports world would have picked Penn State to reach the national championship round at the beginning of the year.
The team wasn’t formed long before the season started and the Rocket League club had been stagnant for most of the previous year. Pietrak, who had spent the previous semester studying in China, returned with ideas of rebuilding the club.
Penn State didn’t get off to the best start early in the season, but meshed as its slate went along and found its groove during the playoffs.
“I believe that underdog situation really gave us the pressure we needed to really build a strong team, whether it be finding pro players to give us coaching or studying replays throughout the season, analyzing why we lost to certain teams, and what we needed to improve on and practice for the future,” Pietrak said.
The final rounds in Texas took place at the new Esports Stadium Arlington, a $10 million, 1,000-seat facility dedicated to esports.
Esports has blown up in recent years, with thousands of dollars in scholarships awarded at the collegiate level and millions of dollars in prize money available for different games at the professional level.
For Pietrak, who had never been to a large Rocket League event like the collegiate national championships prior to this weekend, just being able to take part in something of this importance made it all worth it.
“It’s hard to put into words, but sitting in a stadium and getting to spend a whole day absorbed in something you spend so many hours a week playing, talking to other players who have the same interests, and being able to walk around and meet the people you play with and against on a daily basis was just surreal for me,” Pietrak said. “I honestly think this event, even though we didn’t win, was just a huge motivator for our team going forward.”
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