RIT Esports wins national collegiate ‘Counter-Strike 2’ championship
Students win $2,500 at fall 2023 National Association of Collegiate Esports Grand Finals
RIT Esports is coming home with another national championship.
On Dec. 3, the Counter Strike 2 team won the 2023 Grand Finals of the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE) Varsity Premier league—the most competitive league that NACE offers. This is RIT’s eighth national championship in esports.
The Tigers traveled to Boise, Idaho, for the in-person NACE Starleague Grand Finals weekend, which featured 14 different esports. There, RIT bested George Mason University 2-1 in the best-of-three championship. For the national title, the RIT team won a trophy and a $2,500 prize.
The RIT Counter-Strike 2 team included:
- Matt Bussell, a fifth-year cybersecurity major from Westchester, N.Y.;
- Kyle Jacowleff, a fifth-year computer engineering major from Clinton, N.J.;
- Benjamin Feldstein, third-year management information systems major from New York, N.Y.;
- Aidan Trabuco, a fifth-year individualized program major from Fairfield, Conn.;
- Gian Esteves, a fourth-year computer science major from Clifton Park, N.Y.
“This is the second full academic year for this roster of five being together—which isn’t usually the case for collegiate esports—so I believe the chemistry and the playbook we built over that time was something we could really rely on,” said Bussell. “After losing in the finals to Drexel last semester, and then making it all the way back to this one, we knew that we were going to have to go out there and win it.”
During playoffs, RIT Esports also beat University of Kentucky and Fisher College. Throughout the NACE regular season, RIT’s Counter-Strike 2 team remained undefeated.
Counter-Strike 2 is a multiplayer, first-person shooter game that pits two teams of five players against each other, with each team having to complete certain objectives to win. Winning requires extensive teamwork, strategy, map selection, and good reflexes.
“The production quality and venue we played at in Boise State University was great, the casters were electric, and the atmosphere all-around was enthralling,” said Feldstein, who also serves as vice president of RIT Esports. “The other players competing for their own games, such as Overwatch, Rainbow Six Siege, and League of Legends, all showed great sportsmanship and even cheered other players on when they weren’t playing or practicing for their respective championships.”
RIT Esports has around 250 students playing in 17 different competitive esports. The university has won national championships in the games Hearthstone, Dota2, Dropzone, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, CS:GO, and Counter-Strike 2. RIT even has an esports lounge on campus for competitions and practice.
On the academic side, RIT is a leader in the field of video game design and development, offering a master’s degree and a bachelor’s degree. The university is ranked one of the top schools in the world to study video game design, according to international rankings from The Princeton Review.