As spring sports continue an indefinite hiatus, APSU athletics are still ongoing through a virtual lens.

APSU’s Ranked-Up Esports has recently received a certification from collegiate gaming operator Tespa to become an official chapter. Tespa, a company owned by video game giant Blizzard, is host to over 270 different chapters in the United States. The certification allows RUE to compete in Tespa tournaments and receive an official esports advisor.

“It’s amazing,” Ranked-Up president Austin Stewart said. “They just have a lot that they can offer us, and it’s going to help us out a lot. Right now, it’s us just trying to trudge through all of the different things that happen with schools trying to get new things to happen.”

When beginning the program last spring, Stewart noticed the amount of time the Tespa backing took for schools such as Mu**ay State and the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. RUE was accepted as a chapter member of Tespa a year in to its existence. Stewart agreed on the atypical nature found within the speedy promotion.

“It’s definitely not [usual],” Stewart said. “One of the biggest drivers for us, is when starting this up, I took a look at our surrounding schools and universities that already have teams.

“[Those schools] have gone through about three or four years of having their regular club and then started pushing it to become a program, they had those few years to make it happen…I wanted to get us up to speed, so one of the biggest pushes for that was, I wanted to catch up.”

The club’s “catching-up” was due in part to huge numbers of interest displayed by fellow students early on: despite only having three days of true advertisement, the club saw an 80-person turnout in an October recruitment meeting.

This, alongside a gauging of player’s preferences on games, led to what Stewart believed to be the keys towards a Tespa chapter at APSU.

“I just think it’s the fact that we’re open to a lot of different things,” He said. “Our games, we don’t really establish the games our self that we’re going to play, as officers we don’t do that: we make sure that we have the students that want to play them. We have students go out and find people that they know who can be on that team and will play before we even add it to the roster of games. I think that’s one of the things that puts us ahead, because we know what people want to play.”

The backing ultimately brings RUE one step closer to becoming a member of The National Association of Collegiate Esports. If APSU were to reach that mark, they would join King and East Tennessee State University as the three schools at the highest level for varsity esports.

Stewart claimed that the advisement from Tespa will lead Ranked-Up into a league of their own: “That’ll help us out a lot. It brings more people to play with, more people to work with, and if we can get invites from the other chapters, it will give us a lot more networking.”