The crowd noise grows with the intensity of the game as 200-300 fans watch Mississippi State University and the University of Mississippi battle it out in esports on the massive scoreboard in Humphrey Coliseum.
Brian Crumpton, a senior studying business information systems, is the MSU Esports secretary and team captain of the Rainbow Six Siege Team. He described the atmosphere as one where you could hardly hear your teammates because the headphones were not noise-canceling.
"I feel like that's when it forces you to be at your best," Crumpton said. "With all the nerves going on, you can't really think straight. There are 200-300 people watching you, and you aren't really used to that because you are typically playing at home by yourself."
This moment will be a distant memory compared to what will happen this year as social distancing has forced the Esports Egg Bowl to be played online. The tournament, slated for Oct. 24, will take place on Ole Miss Esports Twitch.
Crumpton said he got into playing Rainbow Six when he got it for Christmas the first year it came out, and he has spent almost every day since then playing it. The competitive side of the game offered him a challenge, and Crumpton has run with it. However, this year there is a new challenge.
MSU Esports Vice President of External Affairs Devon Musto, a senior studying business administration, said the remote playing of the game can have differing impacts on the players.
"People may be more comfortable in their home setting; some people may not perform as well with a crowd in front of them," Musto said. "On the flip side, you could have people who don't have as nice of setups. Last year, we were very blessed to have IBuyPower sponsor the PC's for us. That made the competition feel completely even. If you have somebody on either side who has a worse setup or poor internet connection, it can harm them too."
While the circumstances due to COVID-19 are challenging to clubs and athletic teams alike, the esports team may have an opportunity to take the stage front and center. Musto said, because of different conferences opting to not play sports this fall, it has opened up a possible window for esports to get publicity and grow their audience.
"It gives esports an opportunity to capitalize on a market that is desperate for something right now," Musto said. "The players would prefer it to be in person. There is a different feeling to it being in person. Us being able to go online, we will be able to perform our event. This is going to be huge, and I think we will actually draw more numbers than we did the previous two years for it."
Esports at MSU has multiple teams that compete for MSU and represent different games. There are currently teams for League of Legends, Super Smash Brothers, Call of Duty, Rocket League, Rainbow Six Siege, Valorant, Madden, NBA 2K, Hearthstone, CS: GO, Overwatch, DOTA 2 and Smite.
Josh Chumney, a senior studying software engineering, is the the president of the esports team at MSU. Chumney said that, in order for a game to join the organization, there has to be a league you can play in during the year, and there has to be people who are playing the game at MSU. As far as making the team, there are tryouts at the end of each semester.
"We help you get set up; we help you with funding," Chumney said. "That's how most of our games have grown over the years. We have people who come in and find a league for a game and then find people are interested in playing, and that's how the real competitiveness of a game begins."