Photo Description: (from left) Tristin Kinderknect, Ethan Cronin, Denny McAtee, Tytus Woodburn, Parker Reece (commentator), Logan French and coach Ryan Hinds stand under the victory stats for the final map.
Photo Credit: Madeline Peters
The Concordia Esports team beat the California State University of Dominguez Hills Toros in the Pacific/Midwest National Esports Collegiate Conference division title in Valorant 3-2 and remained undefeated for their season.
The team of five Bulldogs included sophomores Tytus Woodburn (Tywood) and Tristin Kinderknecht (R3ACTIONZ104), senior Logan French (SaintGermain), junior Ethan Cronin (Small Potato) and freshman Denny McAtee (Astrum).
The match was played best of five maps. The winning team needed 13 round wins and at least a two-point lead. The teams are either attacking or defending, and the goal is to plant or defuse a spike on a bomb site in a certain amount of time. It is also possible to win by eliminating the other team. Every 12 rounds, the phase shifts so the team that was attacking in the beginning of the game is now defending, and vice versa.
The first map was a big win for Concordia, who defeated the Toros 13-5. Cronin started off the map with an ace, single handedly killing every other person on the opposing team. Cronin ended the map with 13 kills. Woodburn and French picked up 24 and 18 kills respectively. Kinderknect had 10 kills and McAtee had 9.
Concordia lost the next two maps 13-5 and 13-3. Woodburn maintained the top kill spot in both maps with 15 in the second map and nine in the third. McAtee also had 15 in the second map, but only five in the third. French had 11 in the second and nine in the third. Cronin had the same record as French, and Kinderknect had 10 in the second and eight in the third.
The fourth map was back and forth between the Bulldogs and the Toros. Neither team could get the upper hand, and it looked like either team’s game in the beginning. Right before the phase swap, Concordia began a five-round run that cemented their win 13-8 and took Dominguez Hills to a fifth map. Cronin had the most kills on this map with 28. Woodburn and Kinderknect finished with 16, McAtee with 13 and French with 12.
The fifth map started out terribly for Concordia. Dominguez Hills went on a nine-round run and looked like they were going to run away with the map. Suddenly, they activated a gamer superstition called the “9-3” curse, where a team that starts up by a lot suddenly gets swept by the opposing team. Concordia proceeded to go on an incredible seven-round run to come back and tie the game, taking the map into overtime.
In overtime, teams must win two consecutive rounds, but the phase swaps every round. The Bulldogs won both rounds and won the division title 14-12. Woodburn was once again the top killer with 27. McAtee had 25, French had 16, Kinderknect had 14, and Cronin had 11.
Coach Ryan Hinds was in awe of the team’s work Tuesday night saying, “I don’t know how to describe it. Obviously we got the win, and that means we’re champions. This is the first championship that we have won as an esports program, so it’s awesome… What we were going up against tonight was the toughest game of our entire season, including when we tried to play them in the regular season, and we beat them.”
With such a close match, emotions were high for the first championship bout of the program’s history. “It deserved to be a close game; neither side deserved to really blow the other one out – though I wish we had,” said Hinds. The team began playing at 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday and did not finish until 12:30 a.m.
The esports team hosted a watch party event for the campus as well. The game was streamed in a room near the esports arena with live commentary going to the team’s Twitch stream. Hinds was thankful to everyone who showed up and was excited that the team had such a supportive crowd that night, saying, “We wanted to do the watch party to make it special because it was our first finals that we’ve made it into… I’m really glad we had such a great turnout. Tons of people [were] sitting in here for the first map-and-a-half, and as many people that stuck around to the very end was just awesome. The atmosphere was like everytime we would do something – everytime we got [a win] – it just went wild, nuts in here. So it was really awesome to have that kind of an experience for our campus.”
The team is 12-0 in Valorant with 25 map wins and 4 map losses for the season. The team will go to nationals in their division. Their Twitch channel streams all their games and can be found at CUNE_Esports on Twitch.tv. All of their streams are also uploaded to their YouTube channel cune_esports.