By Daniel Yae
While some people think gaming for hours can have negative and detrimental effects to one’s academic career, one former Grand Rapids Community College student’s gaming abilities have led him to a scholarship and spot on a local collegiate esports team.
Devin Jones, 20, attended GRCC before making his transfer to Aquinas College to compete for their varsity Overwatch roster as their starting support.
Jones attended GRCC full-time from fall 2019 through spring 2020 before transferring to Aquinas.
Jones got started with gaming and esports at a young age, and his gaming journey has taken him farther than most.
“I’ve always been competitive since I was a kid, and played a lot of video games with my cousins,” Jones said. “Growing up I played a lot of single player games, but when I met some of my friends in middle school and high school, I started playing multiplayer games. I played a lot of Smash Bros, Overwatch, (NBA) 2K and whatever I played I was always above average at the game.”
“I went to local Smash Bro tournaments and watched a lot of esport tournaments as well. (I) always enjoyed watching and playing the games competitively and all this competition in my life pointed me into the direction of esports,” he said.
While competitive gaming at the college level wasn’t something that Jones was actively pursuing, he took the opportunity when it came to him.
Transferring schools can sometimes be a hassle and bring about a lot of stress, but Jones says his transition to Aquinas was easy.
“My transfer from GRCC to Aquinas was pretty smooth and aligned with my plans,” he said. “I got my associate’s at CC before transferring and all my credits were transferred except for one. The process was really simple, and the people at Aquinas were extremely helpful with my transfer.”
Jones offered some advice to people who are curious about esports at the collegiate level.
“There’s a lot of room and programs at a lot of different schools for people, and for people who just want to be a part of the program/clubs,” Jones said. “A lot of schools have opportunities for everyone even if you aren’t the best at the game.”
Jones said there are opportunities to get involved in organized tournaments or be part of organizing.
“It’s not just about competition, but reaching out to the organizers/coaches of the club and programs is a great place to start,” he said.
Being on a team requires a lot of practice, time, and effort.
“My team practices three times a week for about two hours at a time,” he said. “Personally, I practice on my own time around five hours a week. I go through replays, VODs (video on demand), and things I can work on personally to improve.”
Jones does this on top of taking 15 credit hours of classes.
“Often, I have a 10–15 hour schedule for practicing and improving, but I try to go above and beyond that so I can be the best player that I can possibly be even with the workload that I have.”
Despite the busy schedule, Jones is able to balance school work and practice extremely well.
Jones’ peak Overwatch rank was 4,206 SR (Skill Rating) Grandmaster in season 26. Bronze being the lowest rank and Grandmaster being the highest rank achievable in Overwatch.