Humber College’s Call of Duty team continues to put Esports on the varsity map. 

The team of five captured a huge win at the 2020 Tespa Varsity Invitational Tournament recently, gaining the respect of the competitive Esports community. They also walked away with more than $12,500 in total prize money. 

Sixteen colleges and universities across the United States and Canada were invited to participate in the tournament. Humber was one of two Canadian institutions to participate. 

The COVID-19 pandemic prevented any in-person play this year, so the organizers set up a LAN tournament. dante ceccarelli

“Everybody is using the same Internet, so there’s no lag when you play,” said team manager Dante Ceccarelli. 

Ceccarelli, who will start his second year of the Sports Management program this Fall, helped build the Call of Duty (CoD) team through contacts in the local Esports scene. 

“It’s a very close-knit community, so they were friends beforehand. We had trials this year for spots on the team. You have to be committed, like a varsity athlete. We take it serious at Humber. There’s no casual play,” he said. 

“A surreal feeling” 

An Esports tournament is organized much like other sports tournaments, where teams face each other in matches and the winner moves on to the next round. 

Teams that have lost a match move to the “loser’s bracket.” If they win the finals of the loser’s bracket, the team moves to the grand championship. 

Humber College rose to the top of the winner’s bracket to secure a spot in the finals. The team faced Texas A&M University, who clawed their way up from the loser’s bracket.  

Humber defeated the American University by a score of  3-2 in the grand finals to win the title. 

“They (Texas A&M) are the reigning league champions and prior to the tournament had only lost one series in the whole season, but we put in countless hours leading up to the tournament to polish our game. Seeing all of our hard work pay off was truly amazing,” said Humber team captain Jacob Lane.

Humber’s CoD team won major bragging rights and each player received $2,500 USD in scholarship prize money, plus new equipment. 

“Receiving that massive prize was such a surreal feeling,” he said. Team captain Jacob Lane

Ceccarelli wasn’t eligible to receive any of the winnings due to his role as team manager, but the tournament proved to be a valuable experience and, perhaps, the beginning of a dream career. 

“I want to be part of a franchise team. There’s a CoD team league with 12 franchise teams in cities around America, including Toronto that competes for $1.5-million every year.” 

He adds that he wouldn’t actually be playing on the teams and laughs. 

As manager, Ceccarelli is right where he wants to be. 

Strong programs, successful teams 

At Humber College, Esports players are treated like and considered varsity athletes, each specializing in a particular game, with GPA requirements and a responsibility to a code of conduct. 

Ceccarelli ensures a strict training schedule for all team members, and says that while practice is important, “we always encourage education first.” 

According to Faculty of Media & Creative Arts  Senior Dean Guillermo Acosta, Esports at the college have grown tremendously in popularity and prestige, in part because of Humber’s strong Game Programming  advanced diploma program.  Students, staff and professors have been tracking the progress of Humber College’s eight varsity Esports teams. 

“We started to learn about the competition and how we could invest in it in a way that would be beneficial to our students and community,” said Acosta. 

“It not only gives students focus and opportunities to practice a number of important life-skills, but for me, one of the most important aspects is the sense of community that it brings.” 

The CoD team’s big win will bolster the sport’s credibility at Humber and beyond, proving that Esports belong, and are here to stay.