UK eSports: Filled with serious gamers, but open to all


The UK eSports club meets every other Thursday at 5 p.m. on the second floor of the 90. Photo by Kennedy Miller

Kennedy Miller

One of the most interesting clubs on UK’s campus started with two men and a vision.

Steven Gripshover and Jack Kirby, both junior computer science majors, started the eSports Club with the goal of providing a place for people that love video games to hang out with people who have similar interests.

“Some people that play games, it’s all they do,” Gripshover said. “So if you can get other people that are the same way, it’s a whole new aspect that I don’t think is represented on campus at all.”

The eSports Club hosted a game night Friday that allowed those in attendance to compete against one another in a friendly, welcoming environment in pursuit of unique and cool prizes.

With this family-like atmosphere, the club has grown a lot in a short amount of time.

“This is our third semester that we’ve existed, and we’ve been growing a ton,” Gripshover said.

eSports in general has also grown exponentially over the past five to 10 years with bigger prize pools, larger viewership and bigger crowds at tournaments than ever before, regardless of the game.

“It just keeps getting bigger and is becoming more mainstream,” said Kirby, a co-founder of the eSports club. “The Overwatch League is the first big attempt to become mainstream and it’s working. Many (eSports) teams are owned by NFL and NBA team owners.”

The growth of eSports has even spread to UK as five students are competing for over $500,000 in scholarships and prizes in the “Heroes of the Dorm” tournament, aptly named after the game it is based around, Heroes of the Storm.

Both Kirby and Gripshover believe that eSports deserves more respect outside of the gaming world than it receives.

“A lot of news sources scoff and laugh at it,” Kirby said. “Many people say it’s not a real sport, which really isn’t the point. If it’s entertaining to watch, that’s all you need.”

Gripshover agreed. He said “in some places it is respected, like San Francisco…but maybe not in Lexington, Kentucky.”

Despite the skepticism and lack of respect from non-gamers, eSports, as well as the eSports Club at UK, will continue to grow without question.

For anyone looking to take part in the gaming festivities, Kirby provides an open invite to join the club.

“The discord is very welcoming,” said Kirby about the club’s server on the private online chatroom provider called Discord. “Anybody can ask about playing games and starting teams…nobody is attacked for messing up but there is constructive criticism in order to get better.”

Anyone can join the eSports Club Discord server for free here. The club meets every other Thursday at 5 p.m. on the second floor of the 90.