Laker Esports Center opens on Allendale campus


Courtesy / Twitter (@gvsuesports)

Jamie Wilson, Staff Writer

A new gaming room has come to life in the lower level of the Kirkhof Center at Grand Valley State University. Along with the potential for a bright esports future, rows of side-by-side computers, monitors and chairs fill the room.

The room will open on Dec. 1 and will be open from noon to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday each week.

Christopher Bilski, also known as Coach Bilski, is the head of esports at GVSU. Bilski is in charge of the Laker Esports Center, where he sets up and runs game nights and interacts with the student-run organization called the GVSU Esports club. The GVSU Esports club has nearly 550 members, which Bilski said shows the campus’s overwhelming interest in esports. 

“The club has been petitioning for GVSU to find a space for the members to game side by side, especially for students who don’t have any or quality gaming equipment,” Bilski said. “Everything will be provided for students from computers to headsets”

While there will be designated esports club meetings taking place in the room, any student with their student I.D. is welcome to come to play during open play hours. The Laker Esports center has 10 different games available, some including League of Legends, Rocket League, Overwatch, Valorant and Minecraft.

Beyond open play and esports meetings, the Laker Esports Center plans to host events and competitions throughout the year. Currently, the esports club is only a student-led club, rather than an official university team, though they hope to gain enough momentum to become an official GVSU team in the future.

If this were to happen, the team could have official tryouts, practices, matches and possibly the opportunity to travel for competitions. Jesse DeWeerd, a member of the GVSU Esports club, plays on the Rocket League blue team (also called the A-team).

“For Rocket League we have a blue team (the A-team), a black team (the B-team) and a white team (the C-team),” DeWeerd said. “We are looking to make the blue team a university team.”

Bilski said he will help bring this goal to fruition by heading the gaming room, organizing scholarships for incoming players, and hiring coaches for the team. 

“I am extremely excited for the new gaming room, as it shows GVSU is taking esports and gaming more seriously,” DeWeerd said. “The computers are top of the line and the room will allow us to play and hang out together in real life rather than playing online.”

DeWeerd said that without a legitimate coach or a gaming room, the esports club has just been playing for fun and trying to do their best in Collegiate Rocket League (CRL). 

“With the gaming room and hopefully becoming a university team, we can enter into tournaments we previously couldn’t,” DeWeerd said. “Being coached, practicing with our team, and having support from the university makes a huge difference. I think GVSU will be able to be top five in CRL next year because of it.”

While the new gaming room is a huge stepping-stone for the GVSU Esports club to become an official university team, the room is also a great opportunity in itself for any GVSU student interested in video gaming, DeWeerd said.

Students interested in joining the esports club and learning more about gaming at GVSU can follow the team on social media @gvsuesports and @gvsuesportsclub for information on tournaments.