Quinnipiac esports team ranks first in the MAAC

Mike Medina: ‘It’s the fastest-growing sport in the world’

Sydney Reynolds, Contributing Writer

Quinnipiac Athletics has experienced postponements and cancellations throughout the pandemic, causing some difficulties. However, one subsection has thrived: esports.

Quinnipiac Super Smash Bros. Ultimate player “Bakko” finishing a Marist player in the MAAC semifinals. (Screenshot from maacsports.com)

The university’s own club esports team has been performing well in the pandemic. While the club has been active on campus for five years, this is only its first year being an official club sport of the university. The team plays three games: Rocket League, Overwatch and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (SSBU).

Billy Schillinger, who goes by his username “Billy Schilly,” is a member of the SSBU team. Just recently in a match against Marquette University in which Quinnipiac won 18-10, one of the announcers described him as the “anchor” of the group. He mainly plays Pichu or Pit in his matches. Quinnipiac’s SSBU team has been the most successful in its division out of the three groups.

“In the span of a year and a half, we went a full calendar year without losing a regular-season game,” Schillinger said.

The team ranked first in the MAAC standings, winning the regular-season championship in February. They also placed second in the tournament championship, only losing by two points to Siena College. None of this would be achieved without skill. Just like physical sports, esports hosts practices for all team members, though they aren’t rigorous. Most are done on the players’ personal time.

The SSBU scoring system is also simple. Each player starts with three lives (also known as stocks). Once a winner comes out of a match, their remaining stock counts as a point. If a player comes out without dying, they have earned a maximum of three points for that round.

Esports has also become lucrative within the past couple of years. Schillinger is sponsored by a company called Brainless eSports. And most recently, the biggest cash prize for SSBU tournament-wise has been $250,000, awarded to the winner back in March 2020. But Schillinger’s eye isn’t on the money.

“It’s just a hobby that I do that I got really good at,” Schillinger said.

Illustration by Connor Lawless

He has his own gaming community back on Long Island which consists of some nationally-ranked players. And, like physical sports, esports needs to make cuts to the team.

“The trial this year was just a straight-up double elimination,” Schillinger said. “Although, the results themselves weren’t the only factor. We’re also looking at sets, looking how people played, and we pretty much decided from there. So if we saw what we liked, we kept them on the team.”

The overall growth of the Quinnipiac esports teams has been incredibly impressive. Mike Medina, who is the director of campus life for recreation, helps oversee the esports team. He’s already planning on expanding the program.

“It’s the fastest-growing sport in the world,” Medina said. “And this may be breaking news, but we’re going to have an esports-dedicated place on Rocky Top. There will be a student center room over in the summer that gets renovated to be an esports space. So it’ll be an area where you can sit and play console games and then there will also be PC stations in there as well.”

Much like the industry itself, the university is rapidly growing its gaming community. Medina is even open to introducing new games such as Valorant. Students can suggest what teams they would like to be added to club-level esports.

To support the SSBU team directly, they will be playing in the conference finals April 17. A livestream will play on https://www.twitch.tv/officialegf.