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Kentucky Kernel

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King University wins Kentucky Esports Bluegrass Boost Battle

Members of the Kentucky Wildcats eSports team take on Kennesaw State in the first round of the 2023 Kentucky Overwatch LAN at The Cornerstone on April 2, 2023. UK won 2-0. | Photo provided by UKY eSports

Kentucky Esports hosted 20 teams for its “Bluegrass Boost Battle,” an intercollegiate Rocket League tournament at The Cornerstone on Oct. 7-8.

The tournament started with a qualifying groups stage in which all 20 teams were organized into four different groups with five teams each.

Members of the Kings University Esports club pose for a photo at The Cornerstone on October 9, 2023. Photo provided by the UKY Esports club.

The top 12 teams from the group stage would advance to the second day and play in an elimination bracket with the top four seeded teams from each group getting a first-round bye.

The matches in the tournament were all three-versus-three, with the team who scored the most goals at the end of regulation or overtime claiming the victory in a best of five or best of seven game series depending on the round.

King University recorded an impressive performance in the elimination bracket, defeating every team it faced with a 4-0 sweep on its way to claiming a grand final’s victory against Northern Kentucky.

While the University of Kentucky had two teams qualify for the elimination bracket, both UK White and UK Blue were eliminated in rounds one and two respectively.

KU lost one game during the entire tournament to Purdue, the only blemish on an otherwise flawless run.

Preparation was the deciding factor for the eventual champions, according to Andrew “BigWade” Wade, a member of the KU Rocket League team.

“Our coach did a great job game-planning us,” Wade said. “We game-planned for every team here: we know what they’re good at, we know what they’re bad at and we exploited that to a tee.”

While it may have won every series with a sweep, KU’s victory in the finals did not come easily.

NKU had a stalwart defense and a potent offense to match that was on display every round of the tournament, including the finals.

NKU jumped out to an early lead in two out of its four losses to KU and every match was decided by only one goal in favor of King.

Kentucky Esports members, James “Tyy” Crabtree, Nathan “Doofy” Allen and Jacob “UnfryableApples” Hunt, pose with a shirt with the logo of Gen. G, one of the club’s sponsors, at The Cornerstone on October 8, 2023. Photo provided by the UKY Esports club

Despite this, perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the championship run was not the game plan or the three consecutive sweeps, but rather the method that KU players used to play the game.

Out of the three players in the starting lineup for King, two of them played the game using exclusively a keyboard, something that is considered taboo in the Rocket League community, a game dominated by controller users.

Playing with a keyboard is widely regarded as more difficult though, according to “BigWade,” it has its advantages.

“It’s a give and take,” Wade said. “It’s really just what you’re comfortable with at the end of the day and they’re comfortable with keyboard. I mean, if they were comfortable playing with a Wii remote I think we would let them do it.”

Wade’s closing comment earned a chuckle from his teammates, who were celebrating their win nearby.

The Kentucky Esports program is set to host its next LAN event, the Overwatch Fall Invitational, at The Cornerstone on Nov. 12-13.

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