Students Place Fifth in Collegiate Esports Commissioners Cup

Produced by: Ryan Vu, 4th year Biology Student

Collegiate Esports Commissioners Cup

Photo By: Ryan Vu

May 31, 2022

A student electronic gaming team placed fifth in the Collegiate Esports Commissioners Cup (CECC) held at the Gateway Center Arena at College Park in College Park, GA, on May 7–8.

“St. John’s students never cease to amaze me,” said David P. Hedlund, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Chairperson of the Division of Sport Management and one of the faculty advisors to eSports and the Gaming and Emerging Technology Cocurricular Club. “Captain Ryan Vu and his team have been so impressive in all of their activities throughout the year.”

During the spring semester, Ryan and his team, Brian Betances (Marketing, junior), Ethan Jameer (Legal Studies, sophomore), Demetrios Papazahariou (Adolescence Education/Mathematics, junior), and Ryan Rolon (undecided, sophomore), spent much time competing and honing their skills in the video game Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (SSBU). As with an increasing number of video games, a competitive esports series has developed around SSBU; many universities across the United States have joined in competitions.

“St. John’s University and The Lesley H. and William L. Collins College of Professional Studies have dedicated resources to facilitate and support eSports and electronic gaming,” Dr. Hedlund explained. “From the Game Development and Emerging Media major to the Video Game Development minor, to eSports competitions in the BIG EAST and Eastern College Athletic Conference, opportunities to learn about and participate in related activities are on the rise.”

As the sixth seed, the first match was against the #11 College of Staten Island team. After winning this match, the team faced the third-ranked University of Texas (UT) at Arlington team. In what may have been the first major upset of the tournament, the St. John’s team upset UT-Arlington.

This resulted in a matchup with the second-ranked University of Central Florida (UCF) team, which was anchored by Jacob “Jake” Silberman, who is ranked #53 in the world. St. John’s held a slight advantage in the early stages, but ultimately fell.

The loss—the team’s first—relegated them to the bottom half of the bracket. Unfortunately, the team lost in the next match against Florida Atlantic University, so they came in fifth place overall.

“The event was a great team bonding experience, said Ryan. “This trip to Atlanta was life-changing. We got the opportunity to play some of the best players from around the world and connect with our teammates on a different level. I am very thankful and hope we can all go back again next year!”

Dr. Hedlund expressed pride at the successful evolution of the University’s eSports program over the years. “I vividly remember Smash and related competitions often informally held on weekdays in the lobby of the D’Angelo Center going back at least 10 years. The students carried cathode-ray tube televisions onto campus,” he reminisced. “This comparison shows just how far eSports and electronic gaming have come. The next few years will be exciting to watch even more development.” 

St. John’s University and the team would like to gratefully acknowledge and thank the Varsity Esports Foundation (VEF), which provided funding and support for the team.  The VEF is a 501(c)(3) organization established to offer financial assistance to schools and to provide a pipeline for students to reach their potential through esports. VEF strives to increase literacy around the esports industry’s positive impact on healthy lifestyles, mental health, community, and STEM.

Click here to view more photos from the event.