ANNANDALE -- The Northern Virginia Community College Esports program finished its inaugural 2018-19 season in the postseason, and competed in three in-season tournaments over the course of the year with lots of success.
The year kicked off in October with several exhibition matches with the regular campaign starting in January against LSU in League of Legends and Lebanon Valley in Overwatch. The final match of the year was in April’s Shenandoah Esports Invitational.
“Winning the Shenandoah Invitational is definitely one of my favorite moments,” Director of Esports Chris Gaul said. “It was really special being able to see them succeed after all the hard work and time that they put in.”
The Nighthawks have carried an optimistic attitude following a great ending to the 2018-19 season into the 2019-20 campaign.
“I feel great about last season,” said Charles ‘Charlantis’ Schmidt-Hansen of the Overwatch team. “I'm happy with the team and feel that we have progressed as a team and individuals, but mostly as a team.”
However, early in the year the League of Legends team struggled to get going, but they worked towards a goal and had some late-season success. Much of this success can be attributed to the athletes constantly striving to improve.
“I think that the structure around our League of Legends team needs to be something that we look a lot at going into next year,” said Gaul. “We tried a bunch of different tactics and approaches throughout the course of the year. That variability made it hard for the team to find the success that it wanted to at times. So I think that if we can come into next year with a proper team structure, it will lead to even more wins.”
Early in the season learning communication between teammates took an effect on the Nighthawks, but Chase “Chaser Dou” Brown said once those communications kinks got worked out the team started seeing a lot of improvement.
In the offseason the student-athletes are working on honing their techniques that they will need to use starting in September when the new season begins.
“Mechanical skill is something I am always looking to improve, but I feel that it comes over time,” Schmidt-Hansen said. “Being consistent in my mentality about the game is something I need to work on. Even if I'm not visibly upset, I may take a loss as more important than it's worth. Game sense and map awareness is something I want to improve on, but it may be situational to a specific team. So working on it with a team may be the most beneficial to me. But there are some things that can be learned by myself.”
Regardless of what needs to be improved, there is a lot that can be said about the success of the NOVA esports program in their inaugural year. With multiple tournament appearances, playoff runs, and invitational wins under their belt, next year bodes to be better than the last.