While the majority of students descended upon Jesus Green for the Pimms-addled mayhem of Caesarian Sunday, May 3rd played host to another quintessentially Cambridge tradition: Varsity. Across town Oxford faced off against Cambridge; albeit this time in the field of competitive video gaming.
Electronic sports or E-sports for short have surged in popularity in recent years, rivalling sporting events in viewership and prize money (for more on Esports check here). This is the second year that the young sport has formed part of Oxbridge's ancient rivalry, and fittingly enough the location to be bedecked in high end gaming computers and projectors was the Union's antiquated debating chamber and library. The contest was stretched across five different PC games, with multiple matches taking place within each one. Either Oxford or Cambridge were be declared for the overall winner for each game of this Pentathlon, and the team who won three games crowned champions.
Cambridge retained the trophy they won last year by the margin of 3:2, with the Cantabs picking up victories in StarCraft 2 (SC2) , Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) and League of Legends (LOL); whilst Oxford won Dota 2 and Hearthstone. As the scoreline suggests it was a fiercely competitive event; Chris Cho for example, a 2nd year Emmanuel student who excelled for Cambridge in SC2; revealed he'd dedicated time to practising specific strategies beforehand (in between frantically doing economics coursework of course), and the quality of the competition was embodied most fully perhaps in the nail-biting CS:GO match. Oxford stormed into a 1:0 lead in the first set, before Cambridge levelled it up 1:1 and then nearly closed out the final set. However a couple of mistakes allowed Oxford back to nearly match point before Cambridge snatched victory with under half a second to go of the current round, sending the crowd into raptures. Spectators took to Twitter to demand blues honours for 'Lil Jon': the username of MVP captain Scott Li, and the point gained in CS:GO was enough to give Cambridge a 3:2 advantage in overall score at the end of the day. Turn down for what indeed.
The event as a whole was somewhat marred by the ever mercurial Windows 8 causing some technical difficulties and delays throughout the day, perhaps highlighting some of the disadvantages of pairing sport and modern technology. In spite of this though, the determined efforts of CUDGS (Cambridge University Digital Gaming Society) got the systems back online time and again and Vice President Julian Willis said they were 'super proud' of what they had achieved as a purely student run event. Bigger tournaments have failed as an NUEL (National University Esports League) representative sagely said. The overall event attracted an estimated 8,000 viewers on Twitch TV (an internet streaming service for video games) and more than 150 visitors in person throughout the course of the day. In conclusion then the event saw Cambridge claim a much savoured win over Oxford and the further advancement of a burgeoning and exciting new form of sporting competition. C-Sunday may have been more than met the eye.