SUNY embarks on esports league led by gaming program pioneers at SUNY Canton

Local News

CANTON N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — The State University of New York is creating the first system-wide esports league, which will be led by SUNY Canton.

The effort comes after several campuses in the SUNY system have been hit hard by the COVID-19 virus.

SUNY is hoping to use esports as a way to provide a safe activity for its students during the pandemic.

As a leader in SUNY esports, SUNY Canton has been called on by the Chancellor’s office to help with the formation of the league.

SUNY Canton Junior My Dang says, “It feels like an amazing kind of validation that we are kind of getting added and growing as an esports program, and it’s amazing that other colleges are looking towards us for advice.”

Dang is a member of the school’s “Overwatch” team, one of nine different esports teams the school has to compete against teams from other colleges and universities around the country.

“We love the fact that we’re one of the leaders in SUNY in esports, so getting this conference going and bringing all of SUNY in was such a tremendous honor and we can’t wait to really get the competition going,” says Randy Sieminski, Athletic Director at SUNY Canton.

SUNY Canton had to change their esports arena around, cutting the number of gaming stations in half, from 24 to 12, to account for social distancing. The other 12 stations have been moved into a secondary computer lab.

Dang, a Cicero-North Syracuse High School graduate, said the changes aren’t a big deal. He tells NewsChannel 9, “It feels mostly the same when you get down to it. The only difference is you’re not going to be as close to your friends as you were.”

“I think this was going to inevitably happen, but given the current situation and the limitations around traditional athletics and other student affairs things, like speakers and other events on campus that we just haven’t been able to do, the timing couldn’t be more perfect than right now to start an esports conference,” Sieminski tells NewsChannel 9.

The new SUNY Esports League builds on the momentum from the Chancellor’s Challenge, which was held during the spring 2020 semester and attracted 46 colleges and nearly 500 students.

Extreme Networks Inc. is the SUNY Esports League’s first official partner. This spring, the company donated half of the prize money for the Chancellor’s Challenge to benefit winning schools’ COVID-19 relief funds.

The SUNY Esports League will offer gameplay in:

  • “Rocket League” by Psyonix
  • “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate” by Nintendo
  • “Fortnite” by Epic Games
  • “Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege” by Ubisoft
  • “Paladins” by High-Rez Entertainment
  • “Smite” by High-Rez Entertainment

SUNY Canton will be entering teams in each of the games.

“The fact that we can play these games with esports and get things going and deliver competitions to our students, I just love it, and our esports students are really excited to get this going, they can’t wait,” Sieminski adds.

Registration for the fall league is open now to all SUNY schools, and goes through Thursday, September 24. Interested teams can sign up by emailing

More from NewsChannel 9:

For more local news, follow Jeff Kulikowsky on Twitter @JeffNC9.

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