Limestone University’s esports program gets its 2021 season underway on Monday, Feb. 8, as part of a Valorant tournament that will include opponents such as Clemson University, Army West Point, Miami University, the New York Institute of Technology, and others.

The first phase of the round robin tournament will continue through March 29, with the bottom-ranked teams being eliminated at each stage. The second portion of the tournament will run April 5-May 3. The regional playoffs begin on May 8, and the Conference One championship finals get started on May 15. Conference One, an esports organization that brings together colleges and universities across North America in Valorant competition, has over 40 collegiate esports teams taking part in competitions this spring.

The Saints, under the direction of head coach Zach Lewis, received a first-round tournament bye on February 1 and will get into the action on February 8 against Ryerson University (Toronto, Ontario). That will be followed by matches against Army West Point on February 15, New York Institute of Technology on February 22, Niagara University (NY) on March 1, Miami University (OH) on March 8, Clemson University on March 15, University of Waterloo (Waterloo, Ontario) on March 22, and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (Daytona Beach, FL) on March 29.

“We’re looking forward to these exciting matches this semester,” Lewis said. “Because we are a new program, Limestone’s esports team will be is viewed as a frequent underdog. Our desire as coaches and players is to prove that even the newest of programs can learn fast and come out swinging.”

Valorant, which was officially released on June 2 on 2020, was wildly popular during its beta-stage testing, according to Lewis. The Riot Games five-versus-five first-person game resembles a hybrid between Counter Strike: Global Offensive and Overwatch. Interest was there from the beta launch last April, when Valorant reached 1.73 million views on Twitch.

According to Lewis, the eight players currently in the Limestone program offer a wide range of skill sets that will offer the Saints plenty of diversity during upcoming competitions.

Patrick Sigman is a senior majoring in Athletic Training. He is on the Saints’ Esports varsity squad and enjoys playing Horizon Zero Dawn.

Another varsity level player, Stone Ferguson, is a sophomore majoring in Sport Management. His favorite game is Valorant.

Christopher Mills, who plays on the varsity level, lists Valorant as his favorite game. He is a sophomore majoring in Sport Management.

Varsity player Mason Jolly is a freshman majoring in Liberal Studies. His favorite game is also Valorant.

Senior Nelson Stalling is a varsity player majoring in Computer Science Programming. He favors playing Gears 5.

Junior varsity player David Poole is a freshman majoring in General Biology. His favorite game to play is Valorant.

Austin Smith, who is on the junior varsity squad, is a freshman majoring in Business Management. Rainbow Six Siege is his favorite game.

Nicolas Makins, a junior majoring in History, is on the junior varsity level and his favorite game is Call of Duty.

Limestone’s upcoming matches will be recorded and posted on the Limestone Esports YouTube channel. Lewis explained that he is exploring the possibility of having his Saints’ match against Clemson broadcast live on March 15.

Gamers who are interested in competing for a Limestone esports scholarship can participate in tryouts that will take place this summer. For more information on the program, and to view the Saints’ roster, visit www.limestone.edu/esports.

In making the leap into the popular esports arena, Limestone is one of only a handful of institutions across South Carolina to offer the sport. Along with competitive varsity and junior varsity squads, Limestone offers a recreational gaming club that has access to the University’s state-of-the-art gaming lab and lounge.

Lewis, a former esports player and coach at the Oklahoma State University, was hired last year to develop and coach Limestone’s new cutting-edge program.

LIMESTONE UNIVERSITY ESPORTS SCHEDULE - SPRING 2021

February 8       Ryerson University

February 15:    Army West Point

February 22     New York Institute of Technology

March 1           Niagara University

March 8           University of Miami

March 15         Clemson University

March 22         University of Waterloo

March 29         Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

April 5             Round Robin Tournament (through May 3)

May 8              CF1 Regional Playoffs

May 15            CF1 Championship Finals