Oso Esports seeks to establish competitive gaming at Baylor

Oso Esports is changing the video gaming industry on Baylor's campus. Photo courtesy of Oso Esports

By Matt Kyle | Staff Writer

Competitive gaming has been a growing industry for years. Millions watch esports around the globe, and many colleges and universities such as Texas A&M University and the University of Texas even have university-sponsored teams that compete against those of other schools.

Currently, Baylor does not have an official team, but members of Oso Esports, a competitive gaming club at Baylor, said they are trying to have the club become an official Baylor-sponsored team. Oso Esports has existed since 2017, and it competes in collegiate-level tournaments in games like League of Legends, CS:GO, Super Smash Bros, Rainbow Six Siege and Valorant.

Houston junior and president of Oso Esports Chris Muniz said esports grew during the pandemic due to more people being home and watching sports on streaming websites like Twitch.

“If it continues kind of growing as it has been, I could really see it being really popularized, especially at the university level,” Muniz said. “It’s already become very popularized in places like A&M, UT, UTSA — they have really big followings for their esports teams.”

Texarkana freshman and vice president of Oso Esports Joshua Linnett said many students do not even know that Oso Esports exists and competes against teams at other schools.

“Our biggest problem right now is that not enough people know about the team itself,” Linnett said. “Just today, I was talking to a buddy about it. He didn’t even know that I was on the esports team.”

By becoming an official Baylor team, Muniz said the club could gain better notoriety around campus, recruit more players and gain more fans.

“One of our goals is to really establish esports at Baylor,” Muniz said. “Baylor has had a history of this club, but we haven’t really had a foothold yet. If Baylor talked about the team, I’m sure we could pull in tons of students that just simply don’t know the team exists.”

Despite the increasing popularity of esports and the many viewers around the globe, there are still many critics of the medium who see it as less legitimate than physical sports. Muniz said while esports is not as physically demanding as sports like football or basketball, the amount of work players put into getting good at games is equal to, if not greater than, the amount of time athletes spend practicing and training for their sports.

Linnett said it takes “excruciating amounts” of time in order to be good enough to game at a competitive level.

“Just take me for example,” Linnett said. “Just to be a decent competitive player, I played [League of Legends] for well above 1,500 hours. And I’m not even close to some of the people on the team. You really have to study stuff about [the game] like it’s its own class. There’s all this stuff you have to know just to even try and get good at the game.”

Originally an athlete in high school, Muniz said he didn’t play many games growing up. After dealing with many injuries, he said he was advised not to continue playing sports. However, Muniz said he still needed to find an outlet for his drive as a competitor.

“I had that competitive drive still,” Muniz said. “At first, I didn’t know what to do with it. But then I got into Smash later on. Then I found the game Rainbow Six Siege. I was just able to put that entire competitive drive back into full use and let it out in Rainbow Six Siege and be competitive in that through esports.”