Overwatch and Smash Bros. to Compete in National Top 16 Tournament Bracket in Strong fall Esports Season

As the program enters its fourth year, both the Oakland University Rocket League and Smash Bros. teams have achieved notable milestones. They are among the 32 teams in the country that have qualified for the Collegiate Rocket League (CRL), and they have secured the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE) Varsity Premier Smash Bros. conference championship.

In the context of traditional sports, NACE Varsity Premier is comparable to a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I conference, such as the Horizon League. The Smash Bros. team achieved an undefeated 6-0 regular season record and secured a spot in the top-16 national playoffs as the 4th seed.

The Smash Bros. team, led by senior and team captain Austin “Spectral” Kujawa, sophomore Tristan “Triscuit” Toma, and freshmen Pablo “Avien” Avila, Anthony “Anthony Isnt Cool” Codd, and Robert “Rob” Rabinowitz, is determined to reach the national championship match for the first time in program history. Their top 16 match against Shenandoah University will be streamed on November 9th at 8:30pm EST.

Head coach Carl Leone expressed his confidence in the Smash Bros. team, stating, “This team has the potential to beat the very best teams in the country.”

The Smash Bros. team achieved third place out of 17 teams in the inaugural Riptide Collegiate Crew Battle event on September 8 and secured the second position among eight teams at Confluence Festival 2023. In both tournaments, the team’s only losses were to Michigan State University.

The Rocket League team, comprised of senior and team captain Aidan “Whale” Cay, senior Seth “Tisonic Boom” Tison, and freshman Nicholas “Peep” Stief, participated in the first National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE) conference that exclusively featured NCAA Division I schools. This conference, considered the most challenging in NACE for Rocket League, had five of the nine teams qualify for Collegiate Rocket League (CRL). Rocket League finished the regular season with a 6-2 record, securing a place in the playoffs.

After a 4-0 victory over the James Madison Dukes on October 23, the Rocket League team faced a heartbreaking 3-4 defeat against the Texas Dallas Comets, ending their NACE playoff run. However, the team reached new heights by qualifying for College Rocket League (CRL) with a 6-1 record during the qualifier. This season marks the first time in program history that Oakland has qualified for the Fall CRL, having previously qualified only in the Spring season.

Head coach Carl Leone commended the Rocket League team’s progress, stating, “I’m very proud of our Rocket League team. They have made vast improvements throughout the fall.”

The Golden Grizzly Overwatch 2 squad, led by team captain Matthew “Jax” Jurj, seniors Chase “Bedhead” Pronger, Ian “Creator Core” Koss, juniors Domenic “Krawi” Akrawi, Alex “Carbon” Littell, Steve “Stev” Lonsdale-Verbiest, and sophomores Ryan “Aerospace” Kovacs, Brad “FrothyFilly7” Husk, and Charlie “Berk” Borgmann, also found success in the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE) conference featuring only NCAA Division I schools. The Overwatch roster achieved a 5-1 regular season record, with its only loss to the conference champions, Boise State University. Overwatch secured a 3-1 victory over Ferris State University on October 24, earning a place in the national top 16 bracket. Their first match is against Shenandoah University and will be streamed on November 7 at 8:30pm EST.

Head coach Carl Leone expressed his pride in the Overwatch team’s historic season, stating, “This is a historic season for our Overwatch team. For the first time in program history, they made it to the national top 16 with no plans of slowing down now! This team just keeps exceeding my expectations every season.”

Overwatch also participated in Blizzard’s College circuit: Overwatch Collegiate Homecoming, ranking 40th out of 374 teams with a record of 7-3 in the swiss format tournament. Overwatch achieved first place out of eight teams at the Battle for the Midwest event on November 4.

The Oakland League of Legends team, led by team captain Henry “Hensap” Huang, seniors Alyssa “Thepurpleace” Christoff and Noah “Wags” Wagberg, junior Eric “WZEC” Cheang, and sophomores Bennett “Bensap” Malburg and Joe “Shaggyy” Pawlowski, encountered challenges in the regular season with a 4-3 record in their NACE Varsity Premier conference. The League team will return in the spring to compete in College League of Legends (CLOL).

For the first time in program history, Oakland fielded a Smash Bros. B team, consisting of freshmen Ian “SPECTRE” Sellman, Lucas “NAD79” Fehn, and Pablo “AVIEN” Avila. This team is currently competing in the National Esports Collegiate Conferences (NECC) and holds a 3-1 record, positioning them for the playoffs. Their next match is scheduled for November 7th against Harper College.

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