The CSUDH Esports Association continues to make waves nationally. Already considered among the top Valorant teams in the nation, the Toro esports squad cemented their status as a gaming powerhouse by winning the first New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) Tournament Championship. Their victory in the finals over rival Sacramento State was the first tournament win for a CSUDH esports team.
The NECC, while based in the northeastern United States, is “the first conference to promote a nationwide type of competition,” according to Esports Association academic advisor and general manager Ruben Caputo. “The NECC provided a space where eastern collegiate teams could compete against western collegiate teams to determine the best of the best.” Other universities in the competition included traditional athletics heavy-hitters such as Alabama and Boise State.
Valorant is a team-based tactical shooter game in which teams of five compete against one another. Teams play best-of-five series against one another to determine the winner of each round. CSUDH fields two teams, called the Burgundy and Gold Teams. The Burgandy Team, consisting of team captain Michael Fogel, Shan Jarumayan, Thomas Welsome, Thomas Craig, Luan Doun, Riley Waite, and Danielle Tan, took home the tournament title.
In the NECC Valorant final, CSUDH staged a thrilling come-from-behind victory against Sacramento State in front of the largest Twitch audience of the season. “We were down 0-2,” says Welsome, “and a lot of us were really doubting ourselves. But Mike and Shan kept our heads in the game. They were so determined it helped us keep our focus.”
CSUDH came storming back to take the title, winning the final three games in what is termed a “reverse sweep.” The win was especially sweet because “Sac State was the only team we lost to during the regular season. So, it was an epic final,” says Craig.
Fogel, also the vice president of the Esports Association, is excited about the splash CSUDH is making on a national level. “It felt really cool to be a part of the first CSUDH college tournament win, to be able to compete against some really good schools and rise over adversity to earn the wins. It’s also cool to put DH on the map. We’re not the biggest school, but people are starting to know about us. Being recognized nationally makes us all really proud.”