Staff Writer: Dwayne Davis
WINGATE, NC– Most student-athletes on college campuses are known for their hard work on and off the field but not so much for their gaming skills. Once considered as a distraction to young kids and even adults, video games have opened doors for many, while turning casual players into multi-millionaire athletes. Thanks to the progressive popularity of eSports and gaming, a junior football player at Wingate University, Darius Randolph has seen nothing but success after being inspired to start his own gaming team.
Randolph looks to be one of the biggest names in the history of the eSports league as he kicks off his gaming team, “OTF Gaming.” The team consists of several gamers that he has met on and off the field throughout the balance of both careers. When Darius isn’t busy putting in those hours inside the Irwin Belk Stadium, he runs constant games of Call of Duty on his Xbox Series X late at night. Being a Division ll football player takes up countless hours of his life so his team is what keeps him going.
“I really don’t get to enjoy my passion for video games as much as I want to. My roster of gamers that I hand-picked was the perfect move in my opinion. They have lots of free time and don’t do anything but treat this gaming stuff like a full-time job.”
In fact, being on the roster of OTF Gaming is really like a 9-5 job to the players. Competing in tournaments in many of the friendly wagers that go on in the Call of Duty pro-community allows for the team to earn unthinkable amounts of cash for just “playing a video game” like many mothers would recall. Fortunate sponsors such as Firstblood and many others host tournaments for gamers like Randolph’s team and have a ranking system or bracket just like the NBA or any other sport. However, just like any other sport comes with the responsibility of holding practices and putting in the hours of training. To many, this might sound a little unusual but for the players of OTF, this is an almost everyday thing.
“I wake up, eat breakfast and watch my favorite streamers on Twitch, then I go run a session of squad games on Warzone, sleep, and repeat. I try to do the same thing that Optic Scump does. He’s kind of the Micheal Jordan of the eSports league,” said OTF Big Ty, one of the eight on Randolph’s team.
As Big Ty mentioned, Scump is one of the most honored and also most emulated in the history of gaming. He was one of the first big names when it came to eSports and inspired many other players such as Darius to compete and take his favorite hobby to a professional level. Surpassing over a million Twitch stream viewers and over $400,000 in earnings, it is safe to say that Optic Scump is a staple and an idol for both Randolph and his roster.
Just like Scump, Darius wants to be one of the many gamers that have crossed the benchmark and stigma that gaming is just gaming. He wants to be one of those guys that turn gaming into a more popular sport to show the younger generation that football and basketball isn’t the only way to make money while doing what you love. With Randolph being a psychology major at Wingate he definitely uses those skills when it comes to grinding towards his goal.
“I don’t think I want my body to be worn out from countless hours of hitting on the football field, CTE is very common in the professional league and even other sports so I don’t think it’s worth the risk. Playing with OTF and having a shot at the eSports league sit right with me knowing that the risk of injury isn’t there. I want this team to be generational and create opportunities for those who don’t have that athletic gift or weren’t blessed with those genes,” Darius spoke.
When it comes to his team, it seems as if they were gifted with a special and natural talent for gaming. Winning five tournaments of Call of Duty has shined the light not only on Darius but also on most of his teammates gaining notoriety from the likes of big gamers such as Faze Swagg and Faze Temperr. If Darius keeps going in the direction that he’s going, he is sure to be a big competitor in the eSports league sitting right beside the greatest.