Justin Yancey has a gaming headset on as he plays Overwatch on his computer monitor.

Justin Yancey, a third-year in business economics at Ohio State and returning tank player for the Ohio State Overwatch premier team, plays Overwatch on Sept. 4. Credit: Malle Ratsavong

Acting as a team for just over two weeks, the Ohio State Overwatch premier team has been assembled and tested, and now it prepares for the TESPA preseason.

With 12 players in the Overwatch premier program, the newly formed team is entering a crucial time period for their TESPA (formerly Texas eSports Association) league play. 

TESPA is a nationally spanning collegiate competitive gaming association and the holder of the preseason and regular seasons for many college esports programs, including Ohio State. TESPA runs its preseason through the fall semester and then returns with a regular season in the spring semester. 

The preseason will have 512 teams playing starting Sunday with two possible single-elimination games of best-of-five maps wins. The last four teams remaining in the tournament will split a scholarship prize of $28,000, with first place earning $14,000 to be split amongst the six members and one reserve.  

Justin Yancey, a third-year in business economics at Ohio State,  said that the team faces an early challenge heading into the tournament that may have implications on how the season pans out. 

“Immense pressure, immense pressure,” Yancey said. “It’s almost as if the College Football Playoffs happened first week of the season and then your performance there really affected how you played for the rest of it.” 

Yancey is a returning tank player from last year’s Overwatch team and he said the depth of this year’s team gives it a chance to fulfill its potential.

“I think we have a really good roster. A lot of players can be subbed out and still have the same performance, and this year, more than ever, we’re really looking to have the best team possible that we can have because we have a lot of talented individuals here,” Yancey said.  

With 12 players, the Overwatch premier team will boast two teams of six for the tournament. Each will get a chance to play two games Sunday if they win each of their first matchups. 

Having only five official practices and an invitational tournament competed in, Lucas Lumbra, a staff analyst for the team and a fifth-year student at Ohio State, said he thinks that obtaining experience with these teams is the goal of this preseason tournament.

“I think it’s mostly just experience more than anything. Obviously our goal is to finish top four,” Lumbra said. “But I’m confident that as long as we are making progress every week and we are getting this match experience for everybody as we go through this tournament, I expect that not only will we see drastic improvements over very short amounts of time, but we’ll also see the team work better together.” 

The team returned four players from last year’s team and added eight new players, some of which are new to campus and collegiate competitive play. 

“A lot of these players on our team are young,” Lumbra said. “A few of them are transfer students who haven’t played at OSU or in collegiate Overwatch at all yet and I think just giving them time to play in this environment will be very helpful for them.” 

For Yancey, another goal for the tournament and heading into the regular season is to have teams fear matching up against the Ohio State Overwatch teams. 

“Just being a school that other schools are afraid of, like, ‘Oh, we’re playing Ohio State this weekend, we gotta really prepare. Oh, I saw Ohio State did good in a tournament, they have a really good roster this year,’” Yancey said. “It is satisfying knowing that other schools are weary of you before matchups and kinda have the reputation of having a solid roster.”