PROFILE The University of North Texas is located in Denton, a town of about 136,000 people only 36 miles north of Dallas-Fort Worth, the country’s fourth-largest metropolitan area. This metropolitan area offers a wealth of job opportunities, plus entertainment, culture, shopping and professional sports. A college town offers a peaceful haven for study and research. UNT has the advantages of both. As one of the nation’s largest universities, UNT offers 105 bachelor’s, 88 master’s and 37 doctoral degree programs.
CHALLENGE In 2018, UNT became the first public university in the state to launch a varsity-level collegiate esports program. A year later the university became the first in the state to offer esports scholarships to current and incoming students. The program’s rapid growth resulted in the need for added facilities. “When the program began, the university opened a practice space called The Nest inside the Media Library,” said Dylan Wray, Esports Coordinator. “It’s a great space, but it’s open to anyone who enjoys gaming, or who wants do game design, multimedia work or 3D immersion. It’s not dedicated for our use alone.” For the program to continue to expand, it needed more space and leading technology to support its players.
SOLUTION With ongoing support from UNT President Neal Smatresk, the esports program was granted space within the University’s POHL Recreation Center to renovate and call its own. The build-out and hardware was funded by the UNT Esports operational budget, with added support from UNT Division of Student Affairs.
Opened in December 2019 and given the moniker “the Eyrie,” (definition: a large nest of a bird of prey, especially an eagle), the space provides a home to varsity esports members and coaches.
“Our collegiate spirit animal is an eagle, and we wanted to maintain the theme begun with the Nest facility” said Wray, “It’s a fantastic space – glass-enclosed, like a fishbowl, and located at the entrance of the Rec Center. We get visibility from thousands of visitors every day.” Working with ViewSonic marketing manager for gaming, Jason Maryne, Wray outfitted the new facilities with 15 ViewSonic XG2530 25-inch Full HD gaming monitors. “Right away we found these to be outstanding gaming-quality monitors,” said Wray. “Everything about them seemed ideal for our needs. The 240Hz refresh rate is incredible and the image quality is fantastic. Plus, the design includes great added features like a headphone hook, adjustable stand, cable management – the little things that make life easier.”
RESULTS Now in its second competitive season, the UNT varsity esports program is going strong. More than 35 students participate on four teams, competing at Hearthstone, League of Legends, Overwatch and Rocket League. The university offers 20k annually in scholarships to recruit and support high school esports athletes. “It’s been a busy two years, taking over a club-level program and turning it into a winning varsity team,” said Wray. “Having a dedicated practice facility with leading gaming technology has played an important part in our success.” The ViewSonic monitors help prepare players to be their best for competition, said Wray, noting that without exception the players are all big fans of the ViewSonic XG2530 gaming monitor’s 240Hz refresh rate. “Immediately when they sit down to play, they notice the difference,” said Wray. “Even the monitors in the other facility don’t hold a candle to these.” While there is no mandated standard for tournament play, most players agree that training on a high refresh rate boosts their competitive advantage.
“Training on the ViewSonic monitors absolutely gives us an advantage at tournaments,” said Wray. “At the competitions they usually have some form of gamer monitor. If players are used to being on a lower-grade set up, like they may have at their home, then when they go to a LAN experience, they’re at a disadvantage.”
As UNT Rocket League player Tristan King put it: “The 240-frame rate makes a massive difference in gameplay. Rocket League is a very fast-paced game, so it can be the difference between winning a challenge or getting beat.” Fellow Rocket League player Dylan Windebank agrees. “The higher refresh rate makes the game easier to process when I’m getting more information per second than if I was on a 144Hz monitor,” said Windebank. “It makes the game feel smoother and makes me play better. I don’t have the opportunity to play on a monitor this fast at home so being able to use a monitor that makes me play better at practices and CRL matches really improves my performance.” The program’s content manager, Dylan Acrey is another of the many fans of the ViewSonic gaming monitors in the Eyrie practice facility. “The monitor I use at home is only 75Hz,” said Acrey. “There’s a distinct advantage to using the ViewSonic XG2530, particularly in terms of player control and awareness of surroundings.” Another big plus of the ViewSonic XG2530 gaming monitor is the swivel stand, said Wray, noting that it’s his staff’s favorite feature. “It’s a great design. Picking it up and moving it is easy,” he said. “And to be able to flip it on the side, pull everything out and put it back together, without having to lift up the monitor is a huge help.” Also charged with hauling and setting up monitors at events, Dylan Acrey couldn’t agree more.
“The stand/support system for the ViewSonic XG2530 monitor is great. My work program uses these monitors for public esports events and we often have to set up 20 to 30 of them at a time,” said Acrey. “Detaching and re-attaching screens from their stands is quick and easy, and is a lifesaver on the job.” UNT varsity esports team members have noted many other positive features of the ViewSonic XG2530 monitors, said Wray. These include: the “exceptional build quality,” great visual clarity, easy height adjustability, tilting head and integrated USB connectivity. Many have commented on the slim, space-saving and attractive design. “The 240Hz is by far my favorite thing about these ViewSonic monitors,” said League of Legends player Andrew Schmidhausler. “I also like the design, with the sparks of red with the black. It’s a great-looking monitor. A lot of people who make monitors just make them plain, when what many people are looking for is a nice monitor with a sleek look.”
Himself a “laptop gamer,” Wray said his experience with the ViewSonic XG2530 gaming monitors has made him want to move up to big-screen gaming. “These top-quality monitors definitely provide an edge over someone who doesn’t have a monitor like this,” he said. “It’s like in football, not all wide receivers use gloves, but gloves usually make it easier to catch so those who do use them have an edge over someone who doesn’t have them.”