BY ZAC TAYLOR TRIBUNE SPORTS WRITER
Courtesy of the Powell Tribune
The two members of Northwest College's best-ever esports team both have their top memories from the national tournament. Both remember the dedication they put into it beforehand, playing together as often as five days a week.
It paid off. NWC's Call of Duty Gunfight Alpha Team finished third, being defeated at nationals by the eventual championship team.
The two led what was a successful year for the program, coach Chris Dugger said.
"I am super proud of the teams this season, they did a great job," he said. "The teams that didn't do too hot this season were brand new teams and games we had not competed in until this season, so there was a growing pain there. Overall the teams grew a lot this season, communicated a lot more than last season."
Dugger said the Call of Duty Gunfight Alpha Team was the program's best finish this season, as they were in the invitational season that 30 teams competed to qualify in and only eight teams made it in. Of those eight they finished third.
Dugger also highlighted the success of the Overwatch team, which went from one single win last season to going undefeated until the last week. And they still made it to the second round of the playoffs.
In addition, both the Call of Duty Alpha Team, and the Rainbow 6 Siege teams lost in the playoffs against the team that became the national champions this year.
"This season differed from the previous in that it wasn't an open season and we had to qualify to get into the bracket," Galindo said. "Being that we knew we would be going against good teams, I wasn't surprised because Daniel and I work pretty good together in Call of Duty and we both know it's not just about how good you play but also communication and being able to work well with whoever you're playing with. We have pretty good instinct about another and our playstyles and tend to incorporate that in whatever map we are on whether it was in practice or real matches."
Grotefend said the only real surprise was in how close the matches were, even the one against the eventual champs.
"For the round we got knocked out, I believe the final score was 3-1," he said. "However those matches were extremely close to deciding who won, most of them coming to match point with the exception of one where they, as people in gaming culture would say, 'steam rolled us.'"
Grotefend said the match was his favorite despite the defeat due to the tension throughout and the "clip-worthy" moments as their opponents from Iowa brought out a playstyle different then the one they had seen at the last matchup.
Galindo said his favorite match was the one just before the final defeat, against a team in the HutchCC Blue Dragons that based on their record should've been a relatively easy win for the NWC pair.
"It was my favorite match because while their record and our previous game had told us they wouldn't be the toughest opponents we have gone against; they really brought the heat in the playoffs and kind of caught us by surprise I'd say," Galindo recalled. "It showed me that just because we had beaten someone before doesn't mean we could let up and everyone in the playoffs took it seriously which is part of why I enjoy esports."
The two credit their success to their dedication to their craft. Grotefend said teams were asked to practice at least once a week together, but the two always went above and beyond.
"For Daniel and I we took it a bit further and made it about three times a week on average up until the week before playoffs," he said. "During that week we tried to kick it up to at least an hour every day. These times didn't account for our personal gaming time however and likely that had a huge impact on how well we did seeing as we both played Call of Duty regularly before, in between, and after classes."
Both were pleased to be part of a new and growing program that is far more than just getting to play video games.
Galindo said it was nice to be able to play competitively and the connections and friendships made from that.
"Our coach, Chris Dugger, is also an amazing guy who I believe makes it an awesome experience," Galindo said. "He keeps the mood up and can be seen more as a friend than a coach. You can tell he enjoys his job and enjoys seeing us all compete and can crack jokes with us about our games without judging us harshly. I will say he's a big part in my enjoyment of the esports program and while I've had awesome coaches in other sports I've played over the years, Chris Dugger is my favorite."
Galindo said Dugger — who he called the best coach ever — keeps them accountable, even if he doesn't play Call of Duty, and makes for a lively community of players. And the two who reached new heights for the Trappers plan to keep playing together.
"Next season I might play Overwatch 2 with a few people I met in the center, and if NJCAAE offers a game that Ryan and I both enjoy, we will 100% play with each other," he said. "Ryan is also one of my closest friends, I've known him since my sophomore year in high school and I'm glad I could share competing in esports with him."
National tournament results
Call of Duty Gunfight Alpha Team (Ryan Galindo and Daniel Grotefend) Made it to the playoffs and got to the Semi Finals where their season ended with an overall 6-3 record. They were in the Invitational Season, so they are third in the nation for the NJCAAE Conference.
Call of Duty Gunfight Bravo Team (Logan Gould and Garret Eickhoff) ended their season eighth in their Group with a 2-5 record.
Call of Duty Gunfight Charlie team (Marcus Wiley and Amir Shehata) ended their season 6th in their Group with a 2-5 record.
Hearthstone: Caleb Miller made it to the playoffs and lost in the second round Quarterfinals and ended with a 6-3 record.
Hearthstone: Logan Gould made it to the playoffs and lost in the second round Quarterfinals and ended with a 8-1 record.
Call of Duty Vanguard (Ivan Lee, Amir Shehata, Garret Eickhoff, Henry Bridgeman, and Ryan Sweet) lost in the first round of the playoffs putting them at a 4-4 record.
Rainbow 6 Siege (Dalton Wolsey, Jastin Joy, Riley Heindl, Carson Summers, Dayton Gurie, Ryan Galindo, and Daniel Grotefend) made it into the playoffs and into the second round Quarterfinals where they lost and ended their season with a 6-3 record.
Overwatch 2 (Ryan Sweet, Dalton Wolsey, Magnus Hiltz, Randon Gresham, Joseph Adkins) Made it to the playoffs and made it to round 2 where they posted a lost ending their season at 6-2
Call of Duty Warzone (Ivan Lee, Marcus Wiley) made it to the playoffs and lost in the first round ending their season with a 4-4 record.
League of Legends (Carson Summers, Noah Zeller, Patrick Kelly, Roger DesRosier, Trace Thompson) ended their season at sixth in their group with a 3-4 record.
Valorant (Isaac Thueson, Jesus Hernandez, Noah Zeller, Roger DesRosier, Seid Orazgulyyev) ended their season sixth in their group with a 2-5 record.
Rocket League (Isaac Thueson, Jesus Hernandez, Noah Zeller) ended their season fifth in their group with a 3-4 record.
Halo Infinite (Caleb Miller, Henry Bridgeman, Mark Tilley, Blake Mautz, and Ryan Sweet) ended their season at ninth in their group with a 1-8 record.
Dugger also said he recently received notice that the NJCAA is attempting to add League of Legends into the rotation.
The Trapper team competes at least once each week for nine weeks in a round-robin format against every team in each game, which will culminate in a tournament style finals beginning in November.
Dugger said any students wishing to join the team can contact him, or stop by the esports center any time Monday through Friday from 1-8 p.m.