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Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College (NEO) is going virtual with the addition of an eSports team on campus. In partnership with the Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma, NEO launched its eSports team as a club during the 2020-2021 school year and over the past year, the club has grown to 25 members.

“The NEO eSports team launch is exciting news for students who have not had the chance to participate in other sports before or haven’t found their community,” said Thales Vilar, one of the managers of the team. “In addition to competition, our students are learning teamwork, communication, computer skills, and much more as they prepare for the workforce.”

To celebrate the launch of the team, NEO signed its first ever student-athlete commitment. Carsen Bower is from Gentry, Ark., where he competed on the Gentry High School eSports team. He will receive a full-tuition scholarship to compete for NEO in the fall. “I am super excited for what NEO has to offer me in the future, both academically and competitively,” he said. “I’m happy to be joining the family and can’t wait to see what we can accomplish together in the future.”

Under the co-direction of Elizabeth Flees and Thales Vilar, the NEO eSports team is governed by the National Junior College Athletics Association eSports (NJCAAe). Student-athletes match their skills in a variety of match forms and games, including Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO), the competitive first-person shooter developed by Valve and Hidden Path Entertainment. CS:GO operates like high-octane capture the flag and tests the reaction times and decision making of individual players, while also testing a team’s ability to communicate and cooperate. In addition to CS:GO, NEO eSports will compete in Call of Duty, Valorant, Overwatch, and Super Smash Brothers. The team will also train and compete in games like Hearthstone, Rocket League, NBA 2K21, and more. The Buffalo Run Casino and Resort eSports Lab serves as the home of NEO eSports.

With 35 PCs and 13 consoles, the lab was set up by Contender eSports, who also serve as the jersey sponsors for NEO. Spectators can watch NEO eSports competitions on the popular video game streaming service Twitch TV at twitch.tv/norsemen_esports. For more information on the team, contact Flees at EFlees@neo.edu. (Photo from left: Elizabeth Flees, Carsen Bower, Thales Vilar, Gentry Assistant Coach for eSports, Leslie Moore)


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