ATHENS, W.Va. — It’s been long hours for Jake Neerland since he took the position of head coach for Concord University’s new Esports program in the spring.
For him, it’s all been worth it as the team’s official rosters are set to be announced in the coming weeks followed by trips across the region to tournaments.
Neerland, 23 from Davenport, Iowa, spoke with MetroNews on Tuesday about how the program was progressing after the institution announced adding the team along with an arena for them earlier this year.
He said the support from the school has been outstanding.
“It helps when Dr. (Kendra) Boggess herself is the one that spurred this,” Neerland said. “She was the one that said ‘let’s do this.’ I have had her approval for some of my crazier ideas.”
The CU roster will feature one team in League of Legends, one Overwatch and two for Call of Duty, with one being a varsity and another acting as a JV team. Players on each roster will specialize in only that game.
Right now, Neerland said he expects around 30 athletes on the complete roster, with another 10 students helping the team in roles such as digital content, sponsorship, graphic design, video editing, and videographer. He estimated when the rosters get released to the public by the end of the month that more than half of the competitors will be from West Virginia.
Neerland is looking forward to growing that roster even more in the next year, with a full two semesters in recruiting under his belt. He would like a JV type squad for all three games.
“We’d like to fill out the actual rosters where we have B teams, substitutes and analysts.”
According to him, there will be a veteran presence on the roster with three students on Call of Duty that have been in competitive gaming for years along with three on the League of Legends team and one on Overwatch. Neerland added that the roster is full of transfer and new freshman students to Concord.
Concord has registered those three eSports teams with the National Association of Collegiate eSports but competition in their leagues will not begin until the spring semester. The team will take to the road this semester, including a trip to Clarksville, Tennessee for competition.
“West Virginia Wesleyan has a League of Legends team and I have a League of Legends team. I think that is an inherent rivalry,” Neerland said of competition he is looking forward to.
“I have a player from Tennessee in Call of Duty so any Tennessee teams in Call of Duty I plan on crushing into the ground.”
Finishing touches are being put on an arena for the team inside the Nick Rahall Technology Center on campus. Hardware, desks, chairs, and jerseys are all ready to go when the competitors hit the controllers.