The long awaited opening of the Griffon Esports Arena has finally arrived at Missouri Western State University. The opening kicked off on March 4 with a night full of festivities.
At 3 p.m. an invite only tour showcasing the arena, its new equipment, and the students involved in the program was held with several news outlets from St. Joseph and the surrounding area showing up.
Upon entering the arena shortly after the computers were filled with students and members of the program alike testing out the many different games the facility already owns. Members of the newly founded Smash club were in attendance as well playing the switches connected to the TVs mounted on the walls of the arena.
Among the students playing video games was President of the Smash Club Derrick Shields.
“I'm ecstatic for the opening, I'm very happy we have a place where we can sponsor everything and that it's open for all of the students,” Shields said. “It seemed like a really good turnout. The openness of the computers will be nice for students to get in and play games with other people.”
On top of showing off the arena to the community, the Esports program held a 24 hour live stream on Twitch with all proceeds going to the charity Second Life. Esports director and Coach Christian Konczal shared the results of the live stream charity event.
“As a team I witnessed them come together for the benefit of their community and run a 24-hour livestream that culminated in over $1600 raised for the Extra Life charity, an online grassroots organization working to save local kids through the power of play.”
The stream began at 4 p.m. on March 4 and had closing remarks beginning at 3 p.m. on March 5. The live stream consisted of multiple students playing games ranging from Jackbox party games, "Call of Duty," "Halo," and several others. Student and member of the program, Darrin Brinks served as the main host of the night with several other students shoutcasting and commentating throughout the night.
Konnor Wilson was a previous member of the Rocket League Esports team and now works with the branding and shoutcasting side of the program. Wilson shared his excitement on the big opening.
“I honestly feel that if you told me a year ago that we were going to get this far, I wouldn’t have believed it,” Wilson said. “But I mean if you look around you can see the turnout was great and the support is there for a program like this and it couldn’t have come at a better time. We can’t be near each other so it worked out perfectly and I'm really happy where we ended up.”
The Esports arena will be opened everyday for student use between 11 a.m. and 10 p.m.
Director Konczal went on to state how proud he is of the esports program and all of the students that have been involved along the way.
“The Arena's Grand Opening was a huge success; for the program, the university, and, most importantly, our students. I am immensely proud that the first thing our students wanted to do to celebrate was to give back; that's what sets us Griffons apart.”