The Gaming Knights, the newest sport club at the UCF Recreation and Wellness Center, is fresh off a regional title at the Collegiate Rocket League and has advanced to the Final Four National Championships in Minneapolis, Minnesota, this weekend.
Rocket League is a video game in which three competitors from each team play soccer with cars. The two teams compete in a five-minute game to score the most goals. Players use their skills to make the animated cars do aerial and on-the-ground tricks to get a shot on goal.
During the southern regional competition, the Knights went 14-2 and beat teams including Auburn, LSU and USF on the way to winning $7,500.
“People might see us as ‘nerds’ who play video games, but in reality we’re athletes for a sport we love.” – Kevin Quiroga, Gaming Knights esports director
UCF will compete against three other regional winners at the ELEAGUE X Rocket League Game Zone at the NCAA Men’s Final Four Fan Fest on Sunday. Turner and IMG have partnered to produce premium ELEAGUE content with some competitions to be broadcast on TBS and TNT.
This is the first year for the Rocket League National Championships. UCF Gaming Knights esports director Kevin Quiroga says the southern conference title proves the club is much more than students who sit around at home playing video games.
“It brings a lot of recognition to what we do and legitimizes what we are here for,” he says. “People might see us as ‘nerds’ who play video games, but in reality we’re athletes for a sport we love.”
A 2018 report in Forbes magazine estimates esports is expected to become a multi-billion dollar business this year. The Gaming Knights became an official member of the UCF Sport Clubs Council in 2018.
Quiroga, a business administration major, says esports help build lasting connections and friendships and fuels the competitive spirit.
“When you want to build an esports community it’s a little more complex, because you have to find the right people, and right passion for the game,” he says.