Spring Semester LAN unites gamers across campus


James Hoeck

Illini Esports President and ACES research assistant, AJ Taylor and Illini Esports community director Alec Forest-Pierson discuss hosting a LAN party at the Union on Saturday which consisted of cosplay contests and raffles among the many games being played.

By Drew Friberg, Sports Editor

Illini Esports’ long-awaited Spring Semester LAN saw great success after the nine-hour-long event concluded on Saturday evening.

With a Fall Semester LAN that was hard to stack up to in terms of attendance, Illini Esports combatted issues seen previously in the Union basement and battled logistic issues that didn’t exist when their LANs were previously held in the Digital Computer Library. This made the gaming experience better for attendees and allowed for more stations than in the fall.

“The DCL is a great space in its own right,” senior in LAS and Illini Esports community director Alec Foster-Pierson said. “It’s a lot easier in a way because we don’t have to do anything logistically in there. In the Union, power outlets are limited in certain spots so we have to make sure that they break out to other places. There’s a cable running underneath each table and there’s breakout boxes so people can plug in.”

Starting at noon, people started filing into the Union basement for games, meetups and catered Qdoba. With raffle for free merchandise, contests for best computer build, best cosplay and more, there was something for every attendee.

Games that had dedicated stations in the basement included “osu!,” “Valorant,” “Rainbow Six Siege,” “Super Auto Pets” and “Minecraft.”

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The “Minecraft” station was a part of a contest which saw contestants design a new Illini Esports logo featuring a kingfisher, and the “Valorant” station had much of the “Valorant” Blue roster that represents Illinois in competition.

While gamers fell in love with their respective titles from the comfort of their own room, adding the LAN aspect adds another layer to the fun of gaming. Especially with the Valorant roster present, who play their matches online, playing side by side is a treat they don’t get to enjoy often.

“We have our ‘Valorant’ team on these computers here,” Pierson said. “They typically play separate from one another, but now they are sitting right next to each other. That builds a sort of camaraderie and sense of belonging.”

“Valorant” wasn’t the biggest game of the weekend and neither was “Minecraft.” “Super Auto Pets” made its competitive debut in the back corner before taking over the event. Although a smaller title, the freshness and pop culture relevance of “Super Auto Pets” connected with many gamers at the event. 

This took the staff by surprise, as they didn’t have enough stations for everyone who wanted to play, even admitting that they had played a few matches themselves.

“It’s so funny that ‘Super Auto Pets’ worked its way in as the most popular single title here,” Pierson said. “You walked around, you saw people playing even on their phones or their tablets. There’s like eight people playing (at the general use station) even though the main core is (across the venue). ‘Super Auto Pets’ really crashed through almost out of nowhere.”

Starting just a few minutes after five p.m., the cosplay competition began on the Union basement stage, just next to the HyperX laptop station.

Around ten minutes before the competition began, Illini Esports President and research assistant in ACES, AJ Taylor could not contain his excitement.

“I haven’t seen any yet, but I’m excited,” Taylor said when asked about his favorite cosplay of the day. “That’s what I like about it starting at 5 p.m., now I can just sit back and watch it and see how it goes.”

The LAN ended at 9 p.m. after raffles and game competitions took up much of the last few hours. With no backing from the university and major events in the works for the future, this event was a success for the esports community on campus. Growing the community and putting on events in the first place is a huge triumph for the staff.

“It’s been a pretty solid event,” Pierson said. “It’s hard to plan these things. There is a lot of work that goes in behind the scenes. AJ and I have put in a ton of hours getting those sponsorships and getting people to come out. We’re just trying to make sure everyone is having a fun time while being involved and meeting their friends.”

With the Spring Semester LAN done and dusted, Illini Esports now turns its head towards coordinating more future events and ensuring the success of their competitive teams.



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