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Operation: Hand Wash – The NUEL’s response to COVID-19

The few months after our Spring finals are usually a quiet time for us, as students go home for Easter and prepare for their exams. Coronavirus has changed things, so we put our heads together and came up with something for us all to do over the next few months.

The result is Operation: Hand Wash, a packed schedule of gaming activities for students around the country to get involved in. There will be something going on every day, with over £4,500 in prizing to be won and other cool prizes thanks to support from our partners. No matter your ability or genre preference, there should be something for you (and if there isn’t, tell us!).

We’ve updated our home page with sign-ups for almost all of the activities we’re announcing here today, but here are some more details on what’s coming up:

Spring Season and Finals

We’re in the final couple of weeks of our Spring split, and you can still tune in to our Twitch channel to see the top university teams compete in League of Legends, CS:GO, Overwatch, and Rainbow Six: Siege, Legends of Runeterra, Teamfight Tactics, and Clash Royale. Watch our Grand Finals from Friday 10th to Wednesday 15th April, where the best playing and broadcasting talent from universities around the UK will (virtually) come together in a broadcast fit for the end of another great season.

Minecraft Server

On Saturday 4th April we are launching a Minecraft server! We’ve been frantically building the worlds over the last week and we’re really excited to share them with you. Players will be able to join teams and claim plots of land where they can build and socialise in a communal area. There will also be ‘wilderness’ survival world where players can fight each other and gather resources to use for building in the communal area. Every weekend we will run unique events and activities for players to win IRL prizes and valuable items they can use in our worlds. 

You can find more information and sign up here. We’re also looking for volunteers to help us moderate, so if you’d like to get involved you can go here to apply!

Social Nights

From Friday 17th April, every Friday night will be Social Night! We invite any student looking for something to do to come and join us on our Discord server where we have organised different activities for each week, such as Jackbox, Tabletop Simulator, Animal Crossing, Deceit, pub quizzes, and anything else that the community is interested in. Relaxed atmosphere, you’re welcome to drop in and out – and we’ll be around to facilitate. Join our Discord server and check the schedule on the website so you know what’s coming up each week!

Weekly Cups

Starting April 20th, from Monday to Thursday, we will run standalone tournaments at 18:00 every evening, regularly shaking up the game modes to keep it fresh. No need for a long term commitment – sign up and play one week to the next and you’ll be in with a chance of a prize each night, ranging from Amazon gift cards to game merch. The schedule (and links for more info and sign ups) are below:

Every Sunday, we will also run a special ‘Community Cup’ tournament in a different game each week based on demand from the community. We’ve chosen the first few – Age of Empires 2, Dead by Daylight, PUBG, Hearthstone and Stardew Valley – but you can have your say on future games by filling out this survey!

Blood Bowl

For the first time, we will be running a weekly Blood Bowl 2 tournament. Using the in-game league system, players will have a week to play their assigned games, and we will broadcast the best of the matches (as well as the ‘plays of the week’) every Tuesday evening. Find out more information and sign up here.

Society Regional Rumble

Saturday nights are Society Regional Rumble night! Many society varsity events have been cancelled due to COVID-19 – so we wanted to come up with a format to support these and add a little something more. We’ll be working with university societies to bring their top teams to the fray in a range of esports titles to compete for the ultimate bragging rights (and prizes from our partners, of course).

In a series of knockout fixtures, societies will first compete with their neighbours/varsity partners to represent their region, then go on to fight it out to be crowned national Rumble Champions. We will also select a League of Legends fixture each week to broadcast live on our Twitch channel with up-and-coming UK casting talent. 

The games will be League of Legends, CS:GO, Overwatch, R6: Siege, and Rocket League. If you’re a society rep/leader and you want your society to take part in this, please fill out this form and we will follow up with you directly. 

Charity Live Stream

On Wednesday 20th May, we will run a 24-hour charity live stream on our Twitch channel. All donations will go to the British Red Cross, who are working closely with the NHS and local charities to provide vital support for the most vulnerable right now. Expect a range of exciting guests, some pretty unique giveaways, and a lot of participation from the UK university gaming community! We’ll announce more details over the coming weeks.

…But wait, there’s more! 

We still have activities in the pipeline that we’re working on and really excited to roll out in the coming weeks, so sign up to our Discord and keep your eyes open for more announcements!

Getting Involved

It’s easy to get involved – just sign up and play! You can find more details on taking part by going to TheNUEL.com, and jump on our Discord server where you can follow our announcements of new events. Our broadcasts will be at twitch.tv/theNUEL

We are also running a survey to help us plan the best possible activities: Thank You to the 750 students who have already completed the survey so far! If you haven’t already, please take 5 minutes to have your say here and you’ll be in with a chance of winning one of five £10 Amazon vouchers for your troubles.

As part of our commitment to developing students, we’ve also invited our admins to take on paid roles running their own tournaments during Operation Hand Wash. We’ll be helping them get some more experience and build their CVs during this downtime. 

A few final words

We announced last week that The NUEL has collectively taken the GamesvsCovid19 Pledge. This includes a commitment to and advocacy of social distancing, and keeping our community informed of how they can look after themselves, their loved ones, and the wider population. We’d encourage anybody reading this to check out the website, take the pledge, and share with their friends and network.

You can also join our folding@home team – we’ve joined a host of other esports groups in the UK in donating computing power to folding@home, and you are very welcome to join us! Our team number is 242867, and you can find more information here. We’ve hit around 750,000 points so far, but shoutout to the team at University of Roehampton for absolutely crushing it so far with over 2 million points last time we checked – awesome work guys!

Last but not least, we wouldn’t be able to do any of this without the support of our partners: Amazon, Twitch, Red Bull, Riot Games, ASUS Republic of Gamers, Intel, Wizards of the Coast and more. Their support not only helps to keep the lights on during a difficult time for everybody, but also enables us to keep doing what we’re passionate about: helping students come together through gaming.

Ultimately, that’s what Operation: Hand Wash is about: Play, watch, socialise, donate, support each other, and keep washing your hands!

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