Stockton esports places second in Texas gaming tournament | Local News

DALLAS — This weekend, three gamers from Stockton University’s Esports program proved they’re some of the world’s best Rocket League players.

Brian Busse, Trey Baston and John Merendino competed in the Collegiate Rocket League World Championship Tournament held in Dallas, Texas, from June 3 to 5, placing second in the competition held during the DreamHack gaming festival.

Millions flock to the event yearly trying to prove themselves as the world’s best gamers, Stockton said in a news release Monday.

“I’m happy we got second, but then I’m also unhappy we didn’t get first,” said Busse, of Hazlet, Monmouth County, as the trio prepared for their return to trip to the Garden State Monday. “We did what we came to do.” 

Although the university’s players left Texas without winning, they will share $11,350 in prize money.

The group’s skills were tested early, when they fell in the first round to the University of Central Florida on Friday. They then came back to beat both Michigan’s Oakland University and Germany’s Berlin Phoenix.

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Sunday was their best day, beating Missouri’s Columbia College in the quarterfinals and Canada’s St. Clair College in the semifinals, placing them into a final match between Northwood Blue, from Michigan’s Northwood University in the finals.

“That first round match was close and it motivated us,” Busse said. “We are used to playing at this level. This is what we wanted to do.”

Stockton Esports Program Manager Demetrios Roubos said the teams’ tournament play mimics previous instances, saying that its gamers have been forced to come back from losses to be successful in large competitions.

“We are known for coming from behind,” Roubos said. “It was really competitive.” 

Roubous couldn’t be prouder of how his players handled the adversity to reach the final round, he said.

“This is putting us on the map,” Robous said. “I couldn’t be more proud of our team. They really brought their A game this weekend. It was truly a wonderful experience meeting so many CRL players in person and watching them interact, many for the first time.”

While the team lost the championship Sunday, it has already been victorious this year, having won the national Eastern College Athletic Conference Hudson Valley Gamer Con in March and the 2022 Mid-Atlantic Rocket League online qualifier in April. 

The team prepared for the tournament in Texas with Vincent Nelson, a Stockton alumnus who was a member of a winning Rocket League team in 2020. Nelson and Busse were teammates that year.

“It’s been nice having Vincent with us to provide continuity on the team,” Roubos said.

Beating other teams is always fun, too, Baston said of defeating Columbia College. The university previously beat Stockton in the nationals, so securing a revengeful win was a plus, he said.

“We kind of have a rivalry with them,” Batson said. “They are the best in the west.”

Merendino said he was thrilled with how he and his teammates performed.

“All the stress was off and we did good,” Merendino said.

Contact Eric Conklin:


Twitter @ACPressConklin

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