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Cleary Esports team captures first place in WHAC championship

Cleary University’s Esports team took first place in the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference (WHAC) championship competition.

The team played two single game tournaments and these results were combined with the fall’s Rocket League championship, earning the Cleary Esports team first place overall for the conference.

Cleary was able to defeat Lawrence Technological Institute in the Overwatch 2 tournament, allowing the team to advance to the semi-finals. The following day, Cleary’s team cruised through the League of Legends tournament winning every game. The Cougars secured enough points in all three tournaments – Rocket League, Overwatch 2 and League of Legends – to claim the WHAC’s Esports championship.

This is only Cleary’s second year competing in Esports. The school established its program in 2022.

In addition to securing first place, several Cougars earned postseason awards:

Head Coach Nathan Benton was named WHAC Esports Coach of the Year. This is his first year coaching Cleary’s Esports team.

Pichit Charoenpanich was recognized as Cleary’s representative on the Champions of Character team.

All five starters on the League of Legends team also received recognition:

  • Azeem Ali and William Cronin were named First Team All-Conference.
  • John Leomarc Alonzo, Kiernon Cronin and John Quach were named Second Team All-Conference.

“I am incredibly proud of our teams and their performances this year,” announces Coach Benton. “It’s really something special to see all of the long hours online, in the arena, and in the classroom pay off in such a great way.”

Coach Benton took over the Esports program at Cleary just a few months ago. Prior to Cleary, he worked at Oakland University in Auburn Hills as assistant head coach of Esports.

Cleary is one of only a few universities in eastern Michigan that offers Esports, a new, rapidly growing competitive sport amount high school and college students across the country. Esports draws a completely new population of students who previously weren’t involved in athletics. Now they have a sport specific to their talents.

Esports are video games played in an organized, competitive environment. Some schools, like Cleary University, designed an Esports facility exclusively for the games.

Cleary’s Esports arena is outfitted with 18 state-of-the-art gaming stations and plans to add six more. The arena also is equipped with custom signage, chairs, mouse pads and broadcast equipment.

Research shows that students who choose Esports are highly driven individuals who have high GPAs, high test scores and high graduation rates. Through Esports, they learn teamwork, camaraderie, school pride, time management and leadership.

Cleary will host an Esports skill building summer camp

Members of the Cleary Esports championship team will serve as mentors and Coach Nathan Benton – Coach of the Year in the WHAC – will oversee the camp.

League of Legends skill building camp
Monday, June 19 through Friday, June 23
10 am to 5 pm

Valorant skill building camp
Monday, June 26 through Friday, June 30
10 am to 5 pm

Overwatch 2 skill building camp
Monday, July 10 through Friday, July 14
10 am to 5 pm

Students will sharpen their gaming skills, connect with other players, and enjoy the experience of playing in Cleary University’s new, state-of-the-art Esports arena (located in Cleary Commons, at 3750 Cleary Drive off Grand River Avenue in Howell; Cleary Commons is the first building on the right upon entering the campus).

The Esports camps are open to students in grades 9 through 12. Cleary will provide a morning snack and lunch. Early drop off and late pick up is available.  Cost for each weeklong camp is $998.

To learn more about Cleary’s Esports summer camp, send an email to Coach Benton at nbenton@cleary.edu.