Oso Esports finds home where computers and competition collide

Oso Esports allows Baylor students to compete in a variety of online games at tournaments across the state. Photo courtesy of Ben Swayze

By Matthew Muir | Staff Writer

Oso Esports is bringing Baylor into the ever-expanding world of competitive gaming.

Oso Esports was founded in 2017 and operates as the Baylor chapter of Tespa, a collegiate esports organization. Dallas senior Ben Swayze, Oso Esport’s president, said the group caters to students with an interest in esports, but welcomes casual gamers as well.

“The goal of the club was to bring together a group of people who not only shared a love for video games, but for the competitive, business side of the industry,” Swayze said. “[We also] wanted to create an open social space for Baylor students who weren’t necessarily interested in competing but were looking for a more casual experience.”

Competitive gaming at the college level is a new phenomenon; Tespa itself was only founded within the decade. Swayze said Baylor’s esports scene was nonexistent before the group’s founding.

“There was no organized group for esports, or video games in general,” Swayze said. “Our group has seen massive growth in the last two years, allowing some of our teams to travel for competitions or work with sponsorships to give our members free gear.”

Oso Esports currently has 60 active members, of which Swayze said roughly 45 play competitively. Swayze said representing Baylor is a source of pride for these members.

“Our players enjoy the social engagements and collegiate-level tournaments that pout our school’s name out there,” Swayze said.

The group’s main competitive games are Overwatch, Rainbow 6: Siege, League of Legends and Hearthstone, but Swayze said Oso Esports is open to fielding teams in other games if students are interested. Swayze said these competitions are serious business.

“Our events vary from game to game, but in the past our teams have been invited to tournaments in cities all over Texas,” Swayze said. “Our Overwatch team competed in a tournament in September at the $10 million Esports Stadium in Arlington.”

Swayze isn’t content to just travel to competitions. He said Oso Esports is working to bring a tournament to Baylor and expand the esports following on a campus which favors traditional sports.

“The tournaments are always college-led, and we are hoping to host one of our own at some point in the spring,” Swayze said. “The current goal of our group is to advocate esports legitimacy on a campus heavily invested in traditional sports.”

Like traditional sports, esports can give students a way to come together. Dr. Matthew Fendt, a professor of computer science at Baylor and a faculty adviser for Oso Esports, said these connections are why promoting Oso Esports is important.

“I think that it is important for Baylor to promote an esports team,” Fendt said. “It gives the students an opportunity to meet others with similar interests and practice competition in a collegial way.”

Whether a member of Oso Esports or not, Baylor students across campus are involved in esports and enjoy it as an activity with friends. McAllen senior Zack Zamora said he sees esports as something that can bring people together.

“It gives me and my roommates something to do together,” Zamora said. “It allows me to put myself in a world of professional sports that I wish I could be a part of.”

For more information about Oso Esports, visit the group’s Instagram page @osoesports.

Updated: December 4, 2019 at 7:30 p.m.