Renegades e-sports ‘Overwatch’ captain passes the torch

By Isaiah Colbert, Staff Reporter

Courtesy Columbia College Chicago Renegades E-Sports

Before Daniel “GatorDan” Wilgosiewicz transferred from Joliet Junior College to Columbia in 2019, he had never been on a competitive E-sports team.

But when Wilgosiewicz, a junior filmmaking major, found out Columbia had a competitive “Overwatch” team—a video game he played since its launch in 2016—he decided to join.

The humble and infectious passion of Team Black’s then-captain, Andrew “Zark” Ryan, was something Wilgosiewicz wanted to emulate. That opportunity would arise when Ryan passed the torch to Wilgosiewicz on Sunday, Feb. 9, making him the new team captain.

During winter break, Ryan, a junior audio design and production major, realized he would have to leave the club to focus on his internship as an audio engineer.

In a Friday, Jan. 31 Instagram post, the Columbia Renegades e-sports team announced Ryan was stepping down as a captain and player for the “Overwatch” Team Black.

“The amount of time I was able to spend on [Overwatch] was not enough … to really feel like I was in a spot where I could be the captain and the leader of the team anymore,” Ryan said.

E-sports is a form of competitive video gameplay, said Peyton Jay, a sophomore television major and “Overwatch” Team Red captain. E-sports players compete at a professional level in video games at organized events, either as a team or individually.

At Columbia, Jay said the Renegades’ “Overwatch” e-sports teams compete as part of an organization called Tespa, a network for students “changing the world of collegiate e-sports both on campus and on stage,” according to its website. Through Tespa, they face off against other college teams on a regular basis in online games.

The Renegades’ “Overwatch” players are split into Team Black, a highly-ranked team of 12 players, and Team Red, which has 10 players.

Players’ skill ratings in competitive audition-style play determine whether they are put on Team Black or Team Red.

Jay said the selection of team captain is determined by an election where players run for the position and teammates vote. When Wilgosiewicz, a masters-level player, joined the Renegades, Ryan said the team knew instantly he would be a good candidate.

“He just had a lot of drive right from the beginning to improve as a player [and] had some great ideas when it came to what heroes were particularly strong in [in] the meta at various times during the year,” Ryan said. “He’s going to do fantastic with the team going forward.”

As team captain, Wilgosiewicz said he has to make sure players come to practice and there is good team morale.

“It’s a lot more weight on my shoulders, but I kind of like that. That’s why I applied as captain in the first place,” Wilgosiewicz said. “I was already doing that on the side because I was trying to be a good teammate. So, being official is not really much of a shift.”

In the past, Wilgosiewicz said the team has not taken practices too seriously. Moving forward, he wants to change that.

“I want our players in the mindset [to] focus on improving rather than just playing to play,” Wilgosiewicz said.