NACE Championship pits Aquinas against University of Missouri

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Aquinas Esports team at DreamHack in Atlanta, Georgia. -Photo by Adam Antor


By Zach Avery, Reporter

Photos by Zach Avery and Adam Antor

“DreamHack” Atlanta is an annual celebration of Esports and gaming communities at the Georgia World Congress Center. For a whole weekend, collegiate and professional players alike come together to compete on the world stage, and events range from classic “Halo” tournaments to newer games, like “Smite” and “Rocket League”.

The National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE) hosted its “Smite” and “Rocket League” championship matches at DreamHack, and the Aquinas College Esports Rocket League team faced their most formidable opponent yet.

The University of Missouri was undefeated in NACE’s fall season. Like Aquinas, this was Mizzou’s inaugural season, and a very successful one at that. Going into NACE’s Rocket League Championship, Mizzou had only lost a single game to Aquinas prior to the match.

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Photo by Zach Avery

Aquinas knew this would be a difficult match, and they would have to put in all they had. The trip to DreamHack had been a great adventure thus far, and Head Coach Adam Antor and his players knew the best way to end the weekend would be to take home the championship title.

In the past, Aquinas’ Rocket League team shone as an exceptionally powerful defensive force, but their performance at DreamHack seemed to display otherwise. Consistently, Mizzou was able to snag out long chains of unanswered goals, winning some games within the Best of 7 matches, three or four points ahead of Aquinas. Sam, Stocks, and Cade had difficulty controlling the ball, and therefore, the energy of the match.

Every goal from Mizzou seemed to be a direct consequence of Aquinas failing to stop the plays and passing of Mizzou’s players. In fact, they were chasing the ball most of the time rather than pushing it forward across the field. This was disappointing, especially after seeing such instinctive and intuitive decision-making from excellent matches against schools like Shawnee and Northwood.

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Photo by Zach Avery

Aquinas fought as hard as they could against the dominating skill of Mizzou, but they, unfortunately, lost their championship match 4-1. While they couldn’t take home the title, Antor’s team certainly took home an excellent experience that will prepare them for future seasons.

After all, being runner-up as an inaugural team is an incredible achievement. The success of the Aquinas College Esports program is already apparent, and as long as it continues to grow and inspire young gamers, then it will remain a source of great pride for Aquinas athletics.

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