Over 40 students from sites all over Gower College Swansea enjoyed their first GCS Owls bootcamp event during half term at the Esports room in Ward 4, Hill House, Tycoch Campus.
The students were invited to participate in a full day of activities from 9am to 6pm that included coaching sessions, talks from special guests, leading industry experts from all over the world, competitive scrims against other colleges, fun tournaments and team-building games.
Since they were established in 2019 by Neil Griffiths, the GCS Owls Esports teams have enjoyed many successes, participating in various online Esports tournaments both nationally and internationally. The GCS staff are focused on equipping the students with everything they need to compete and gain employment in one of the fastest growing industries in the world.
The GCS Owls currently have five teams competing in the British Esports Student Championships, a UK tournament featuring hundreds of teams from schools and colleges from all over the UK.
During the first stage of the competition, all five teams moved forward into their respective knockout elimination groups for the finals of the winter competitions. To celebrate this success and to develop team skills the students were invited to participate in the GCS Owls Esports Bootcamp during half-term.
MAD BigTime, Valorant assistant coach and analyst for the 'Mad Lions,' a prominent Spanish-owned, global Esports team joined the Owls for the event, delivering a guest talk on 'In-game interventions - motivation & confidence.' In a talk which the Valorant team described as 'engaging and exciting,' the students learned about effective strategies to improve performance levels of both Esports players and the team.
The team was then joined by Coach Spilo. Jacob "Spilo" Clifton is an American coach who last worked for London Spitfire, a team representing London, United Kingdom, in the Overwatch League which is owned by Cloud 9, a professional esports company based in Santa Monica, California. Talking on the subject of 'Developing skills and techniques for improved team performance,' Coach Spilo talked to the team about the importance of communication and team cohesion. The students were incredibly impressed with the knowledge and insight of coach Spilo and the Overwatch team stated that “Coach Spilo has inspired us to take our team play to the next level.”
Finally, the team was joined by 'Dr. Respawn', Dr. Jordan Tsai from Santa Monica in California. Dr. Tsai is a US Army Veteran and Esports Physical Therapist. His organisation, www.respawntherapy.com, is a team of Doctors of Physical Therapists committed to improving the health and wellness of gamers everywhere. They provide physical therapy services to some of the largest esports organisations in the world and across nearly every title. Dr. Tsai gave a talk on one of the most eagerly anticipated subjects for many of the Esports players 'Health & Wellness of gamers,' giving advice about developing good habits to stay healthy, the best exercises to prevent future injuries and how to avoid burnout.
"GCS Owls Esports is going from strength to strength and learner engagement is exceptionally high, with students across the College investing in new and exciting career paths." Said GCS Director, Neil Griffiths. "We are seeing that the attention, curiosity, interest, optimism, and passion that the students are showing when engaged with Esports is extending to their levels of motivation as they are learning and progressing both in their education and with enrichment programs. We have been working on developing new industry partnerships and have some very exciting developments ahead."
Kiran Jones, Esports Social Media Manager for GCS Owls said “It was such an amazing event. To see so many students turn up during the half term was brilliant. They came together as one big team which showed a great togetherness and has helped to develop friendships and partnerships across different sites of the College. Since the event we have been inundated with many new followers and some very big international teams keeping an eye on our teams and socials. It was a great success and I’m excited to be involved in the next.”
Daniel Davies, Lecturer in Computing and Esports Community and Gaming Manager for the GCS Owls said “I am delighted that the Owls are giving these incredible opportunities to our learners, and that the College is supporting the development of this exciting and dynamic industry."
"Our Valorant team finished joint-top out of 216 teams in the Swiss stage of the British Esports Students Championships, and I'm really proud of the way the students have conducted themselves during the winter split. This weekend we are the only College in the UK to receive an invite to a major Esports tournament, the Beacon circuit event, which will test our players against some of the best talent in Northern Europe, with a £10,000 prize pool. I’m incredibly excited about the future prospects for all involved with team Owls!.”
Darren Fountain, Learning Area Manager (Business and Technology) said “This has been a fantastic opportunity allowing our learners to be fully immersed into aspects of the industry. The team has put together a unique event that not only enriches the learners’ experience but contributes to their wellbeing at this mid-term point.
Student feedback from the event was overwhelmingly positive, with the Rocket League captain, Owen describing the event as “an amazing experience. The bootcamp was so fun; it was a pleasure to be a part of. I can’t wait for the next event!”