Got game? CSU Esports Association is quietly dominating

Hearthstone tournament

You might be surprised to learn that the largest student organization at CSU is centered around gaming. Few on campus know about this thriving, award-winning group — but there’s no doubt that’s changing, and for good reason.

photo of gamers
Photo by Marissa Isgreen

The CSU Esports Association is home to around 300 active members, an impressive series of well-attended events, a welcoming atmosphere and a growing list of nationally ranked competitive teams. Members compete in a variety of games, including Overwatch, CS:GO, Hearthstone, League of Legends and Super Smash Bros., a game recently featured in a tournament attended by more than 220 gamers.

CSUEA has been churning out top-ranked players for years, and big names are taking notice. Recent on-campus tournaments have been sponsored by companies like Coca-Cola, and others are involved in talks to get behind the group.

Rising to the top

Senior Kyle Pallman, a biological science major, put together what would quickly become a nationally ranked Hearthstone team on pretty short notice. Before the fall semester started, he reached out to his would-be teammates via the CSU Esports Facebook group. Thanks to a high number of active group members, he quickly created a strong, dedicated team.

Kyle Pallman Photo by Marissa Isgreen

“It’s definitely easy to connect to people playing similar games with you through Facebook,” he said. “We have a spreadsheet that shows which members of the club are playing which games — it’s a centralized hub.”

They began training regularly, and it didn’t take long before they set their sights on a competitive level. The Tespa Collegiate Series Hearthstone Tournament kicked off in January. With a total of $160,000 in scholarships up for grabs, the team decided to go for it.

“I’d been looking into Tespa because it had been advertising the tournament in different areas,” Pallman recalled. “I thought, ‘We’re a big school, I don’t know why we can’t participate.’”

Nothing short of national

The CSU Ram Wranglers made it to the quarterfinals and were the only Colorado team to qualify for prize-level rankings. Each player came home with a $1,600 scholarship.

Although it took a lot of dedication, Pallman is sure others like him can compete at this level. Thanks to the CSUEA, Colorado State has one of the best campus environments for opportunities like these to fall within reach.

photo of gamers
Photo by Marissa Isgreen

“I feel like it’s important for people to know that they can get into competitions by finding a group, focusing on the same ideas, practicing a lot and playing matches each week,” he said.

Moving on up

The future is bright for Pallman and CSUEA. His team is dedicating time over the summer to practice further, and they plan to compete in another national tournament.

CSUEA is setting its sights on large-scale competitions, such as DreamHack Denver and the development of a Colorado collegiate tournament right here on CSU’s campus.For those looking to join a competitive team, meet like-minded esports enthusiasts, or just keep up with CSUEA, join the CSUEA Facebook group or check out their Facebook page, and follow their weekly streams during the school year on Twitch.

Marissa Isgreen contributed to this article.

Ram Wranglers

From left, Vivian Chen, Nick Hadlock, Fort Collins Mayor Wade Troxell, Nolan Green and Kyle Pallman.