On May 20ththe Erasmus team representing the Erasmus eSports association beat the favourites Doran Alpha from Nijmegen to lift the Dutch College league trophy. Last year the team achieved the same feat during their inaugural season, yet this time around they had reached the finals as the underdogs facing the team from Nijmegen.
Stepping up for the match, some tension and nerves were slowly brewing within the team. Simon Berkulo recalls that some of the team members were feeling the pressure before the big day. “Jan-Willem was definitely nervous; he was texting the whole night saying he was finding it hard to sleep the night before the final.”
The team initially recognised a certain skill gap between their own team and their adversaries. The Nijmegen team was composed of mostly semi-professional student players, and the Erasmus team had even lost to them on a previous round. It still finished with a very comfortable victory for Trust Gaming Erasmus, who dispatched the Doran Alpha team with a resounding 3-0 victory.
Simon continues, “I had a lot of faith in our preparation since it was really going well during the practice. Individually the Nijmegen team was better, but we played as a team” Indeed, like any sports practice does make perfect. A whole month before the final, the whole team was gathering online three to four times per week for four hour sessions at a time. The next hours or days were spent re-watching the full matches played, analysing every single move or strategy time stamped by team manager Jan for possible improvements.
Playing together as a team is only a portion of the practice, as most players also spend a lot of time to practice individually. Jan-Willem: “In a week I think I spend 65 hours in game–I play every day.”
Trip to South Korea
Currently, the team has decided to take a break after the win. Jan: “For the players it is really tiring and exhausting –concentration is key. After each and every match of the tournament, we had our little corner to avoid any distraction – oftentimes we would simply joke around and sing the Rotterdam song to keep us in the right vibe. We really need a break after this tournament”.
For their victory the whole team received two thousand euros, and an invitation to represent the Netherlands in the International Esports Federation (IESF) World Championship hosted in South Korea.
The team is not really thinking about South Korea yet, but they will start preparing after summer. The trip to Korea will be a three-day affair from 12 to 15 December– with all expenses paid by their official sponsors. Each player will still play individually in the meantime, but team preparations will have to wait after summer.
Beating the Stigma
Talking about Jan Willem’s pro-athlete status at the Hogeschool Rotterdam, the team really insists on the highly professional level of e-sports. Jan Willem: “I believe it is a real sport. If you see the highest level of play, these athletes work out for two hours a day, they have a special diet, they train certain hours and they even have a sport psychologist. It’s the same routine as a professional football player. “
Last year the team also flew to Taiwan to participate in the 2018 IESF World-Championship. This time around the team will have the opportunity to fly to Seoul, South Korea – arguably the capital of e-sports in the world. “Some of the most famous athletes in South Korea are gamers”, states Jan. “The team from South Korea won in Taiwan last year, and that same team is now playing at professional level. “
E-sports gaming is quite a phenomenon in Asia compared to Europe, according to the team. During the tournament in Taiwan, one of the team members was getting an ‘unusual amount of Tinder dates’ by simply stating in his profile that he was a gamer participating in the IESF World-Championship.
In term of popularity, League of Legends already has an immense viewership – the professional North American League of Legends Championship final had more viewers than the Super Bowl.