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HPU’s esports program has continued growth and success

BROWNWOOD – January 5, 2024 – Howard Payne University’s esports, an intercollegiate multiplayer video game program, continues to increase its player base, games played competitively and tournament successes.

Launched in the fall of 2020, HPU’s esports program is operated under the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics and has steadily continued to grow each year. HPU has teams that compete against other colleges in the games Rocket League, Valorant, Overwatch and Fortnite, the latter two being new additions in 2023. In addition to this intercollegiate play, the program allows students to play video games with friends during open lounge times.

Along with the growth of the program, in 2023 HPU players had many competitive successes against other institutions through the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE). In the spring, all four of HPU’s esports teams reached the playoffs in their respective games, with the Rocket League team winning its divisional championship. Also in the spring, the Fortnite team placed 10th in the Western Conference and advanced to the national championship, placing 36th out of over 100 teams nationally. The Rocket League team made the playoffs again in fall competition.

“When you get a team and start working with the players and they learn how to communicate quickly and concisely, that really brings the group of students together,” said Cory Langford, esports coordinator at HPU. “It really builds those skills while they’re having fun playing the game.”

For competitive gamers as well as casual players, one of the most important purposes of HPU’s esports program is the community it fosters. Rather than students playing video games alone in their rooms, they can gather at the lounge and enjoy time building meaningful relationships.

Zachary Hallman, a sophomore from Stephenville who competes on HPU’s “Team Pulse” Fortnite team, notes the positive impact esports has had on his college experience.

“I’ve made friendships through esports, and it’s been nice to have an opportunity to put myself out there,” said Hallman. “Especially coming into college not knowing anybody, it can be a really lonely time. It’s nice to be put into an area where you’re around people who also play video games and sharing those experiences. It’s nice to be able to compete and represent my school. It’s been a lot of fun.”

HPU’s esports competitive matches are broadcast on the Twitch livestreaming platform. New competition will begin in spring 2024 and viewers can watch HPU’s matches for free on the team’s Twitch page, “hputxesports.”

For more information about esports at HPU, contact esports@hputx.edu. For more information about HPU, visit www.hputx.edu.

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Cutline: HPU students Ashton Riedel (front) and Zachary Hallman (back) play Fortnite in the university’s esports lounge.

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