Portsmouth Esports society only began in November on 2018 but have already hit the ground running with teams for not only the Overwatch Campus Clash but the CS:GO University Championship, League of Legends University Series, University Siege League and PUBG. I caught up with IDontWannaBeU, captain of the Portsmouth Pimps and a rep from the society, to see how their very first split has been playing out.
IDontWannaBeU began by describing how the society formed. “We had the gaming society, but it wasn’t esports orientated it, was more casual, and me and a bunch of first years and a few friends got together and made the esports society which focuses all on esports.” Portsmouth was unable to field a team in this academic year’s Winter split and this is the very first Campus Clash team for many of the players. “There was one that competed last year, they didn’t compete in winter, but they did compete last year, in Spring. They didn’t do too well, I wasn’t here last year but I got told. “
While a lot of teams have been around for a while now and are able to build from previous rosters, Portsmouth lacked that foundation. I was eager to ask how they went about forming a team from scratch. “I qualified for the Portsmouth Pirates Champions (affiliated with the GAME BELONG Portsmouth arena) team with a friend, and there we met a few people who actually go to our uni.” Using those they met at BELONG as a starting point they were then able to flesh out the roster. “My friend, she’s on our team as well, she formed the team. She really wanted to do this NUEL thing so she formed it, she found a bunch of players.”
Going into my first NUEL tournament I felt a mixture of nervousness and an eagerness to just jump into it. I asked if the Portsmouth team felt something similar coming into the Campus Clash. “We had a bit of both, because, we didn’t know what the prize was, we didn’t look at it and also didn’t know about the other teams so we were a bit of both.” IDontWannaBeU, however, was excited at the prospect of competing. “It’s the only competitive game I actually enjoy and while I also play Rainbow Six and Counter-Strike all the time, Overwatch is the only one I enjoy, so I thought, ‘why not jump in.'”
That said, due to unforeseen circumstances, Portsmouth was unable to play in the first week. “We missed the first week due to complications with not having enough players. It was a bunch of issues, a few of our teammates couldn’t make it, so we decided to call it off.” Fortunately, their luck turned for the better in the second week. “The next week over we were determined to just get a team out. We did and we won I think one of our games, one of our best of threes, but it was good fun, we all enjoyed it.”
Winning your first point in a tournament is a pretty significant milestone, and IDontWannaBeU described the moment. “It was great fun, because the other team didn’t play the three-three meta and we were like ‘h they’re not playing it, so why do we have to play it.’ So we switched up, we went quad DPS just to try things out.” A lot of the Portsmouth players are DPS mains, so the quad DPS composition which grew out of Contenders and is being seen in the Overwatch League seems like a good fit. “We all just jumped on DPS and we rolled the other team. It was a fun game, the next one was a close one.”
Unfortunately, the team ran into trouble again in their third week. “Week 3 we couldn’t get a team out again due to more issues, but this Monday coming were definitely playing because I’ve met some people through belong again who go to our uni. We’re looking at around 9 so that should be a lot of players.” But expanding the roster wasn’t the only lesson learnt from previous weeks. “We can’t play three-three to save our lives so we have to rely on a composition that will break goats, so like a Reaper, or a Pharah, or something similar. Because we’re mainly DPS orientated it’s going to be a difficult one.”
Though not being the one who formed the team, IDontWannaBeU has invested himself into the captain’s role. “I’m the one who’s like organising it. Every Monday, before I go to uni, before I go to my 10am, I’m messaging each and every person in the team ‘can you make it tonight,’ and I’ve opened up my Monday nights for this.” But beyond the organising, IDontWannaBeU also drives the team forward once they’re into a match. “In-game I’d say I’m ‘in-game-leading,’ like, telling people what to play or what they’re comfortable on like go for it etc.”
Each week, around 5% of teams drop out of the tournament. I asked what motivates Portsmouth to keep coming together each week. ” Our esports society, slash, our Discord has quite a big Overwatch base. It’s mainly Counter-Strike, League of Legends, but Overwatch is growing and I feel like people want something to do.” But growing their Overwatch base isn’t their only goal. “We are aiming to get recognised by the other bigger teams and also the other bigger unis,”…” to get known and be on the board and be able to compete against the bigger names.”
In spite of being only three months old, Portsmouth Esports Society has grown quickly. I asked for a few words that might inspire students at other universities to also make the leap. “I think if the uni’s gaming society doesn’t support esports then make your own esports society, branch off. We are friends with the gaming society, but we’ve branched off and are now competing in a way against them. So basically, create your own esports society if there isn’t anything supporting it. Otherwise, we didn’t really have a community for this, for NUEL.”
Many thanks to IDontWannaBeU and we wish Portsmouth Pimps luck in the weeks to come.