SUNY Sullivan’s Esports program thrived in 2022-2023, with a regular crowd in the College’s state-of-the-art Esports arena, regular NJCAAE and NECC matches, the program’s first playoff appearance, and three players acknowledged for their academic achievements.
“I think it was a very successful year,” said SUNY Sullivan Esports Coordinator Ben Kirch. “We had a good amount of success in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. All three players were super committed, and they all did very well in the league. We hope to continue that success into other games as well.”
Kirch said SUNY Sullivan Esports competed in two different leagues this year, NJCAAE and NECC, in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Players were Andrew Palmarini, a freshman liberal arts major; Felix Hall, a freshman liberal arts major; and Andy Zheng, a sophomore business major who graduated in May. Palmarini, from Latham, NY, went 7-1 during the NECC Metropolitan Division season and made a playoff appearance. (The NJCAAE is the esports league for all junior colleges. The NECC is the national league for any college in the country.)
“I had a lot of fun playing for the Smash team in the spring,” said Palmarini, a Latham, NY, resident, who said that he’s excited to try out a new game, Mario Kart, and is looking forward to having more players to practice with in the fall. “My playoff run was a little frustrating, but I’ll bounce back next season.”
All three Esports players matched their success in the arena with strong achievements in the classroom. Palmarini, Zheng, and Hall were each awarded Mid-Hudson Conference Academic All-Conference and NJCAA Region XV Academic All-Region awards.
In addition to Mario Kart, Kirch said the program will be adding at least three more games to the Esports Program in the fall: Overwatch, Rocket League, and Tekken 7, and is exploring adding three other games, Rainbow 6 Siege, Call of Duty, and Valorant.
Kirch said the program is gaining a lot of interest, helping draw students to the College, and, in a few cases, keeping some student-players enrolled in classes. He said the program has two returning players, seven new players coming in, and more than ten who have expressed interest in playing next year.
“The new Rocket League team has been practicing every Monday at 7:30 over the summer break to get ready for the year,” said Kirch, adding that he expects the Smash and Rocket League teams to be good and that some high-ranking players will make a for a strong Valorant team if they can get it going for fall. “We’re still a very new team and program, but now is the perfect opportunity to get into esports at the ground level, gain some experience, and use it as you continue your education or go into a career.”
SUNY Sullivan Director of Athletics & Recreation and Dean of Student Development Services Chris DePew said he is very pleased with the growth and success of the Esports program.
“I am extremely happy with the work that Ben has accomplished in advancing our Esports program in year two,” said DePew, who said the program is growing each day and the College’s teams have been extremely competitive in various game titles. “Ben has a strong group of new recruits locked in for the fall of 2023 and we are looking forward to fall NJCAAE competition. Preseason scrimmages are already taking place and our results are promising.”
DePew added that the popularity of Esports continues to surge.
“As I stated when we started the program and opened our state-of-the-art arena in late 2021, esports is the fastest growing intercollegiate sport in America and we are seeing interest levels rise to what we expected. It is our hope that SUNY Sullivan Esports will compete for NJCAA National Championships in multiple games titles in 2023-2024.”
In addition, visit twitter.com/SUNYSullivanE for general updates, twitch.tv/sunysullivanesports, where all of SUNY Sullivan’s Esports games will be streamed during the year; and youtube.com/channel/UCnG0-QEwSD7A2mCGA61rWMA to view past match and practice streams.
About SUNY Sullivan
SUNY Sullivan is the leader of innovative higher education and a catalyst for workforce development throughout the Sullivan Catskills and beyond. Our diverse community cultivates personal growth and professional advancement, preparing students for success in a sustainable and interconnected world. A forward-looking, top-tier community college in New York, SUNY Sullivan offers over 40 degree programs, certificates, and micro-credentials for learners at all levels of their educational goals. We value critical inquiry and creativity while supporting our students in a culture of inclusion and respect. sunysullivan.edu.
June 22, 2023