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Esports Celebrates New Gaming Lab

Lenovo Gift Elevates Electronic Competitive Sports Program

Student members of the UNCW Esports Club and competitive teams celebrate at the grand opening of the UNCW Esports Lab on October 10, 2023.
Student members of the UNCW Esports Club and competitive teams celebrate at the grand opening of the UNCW Esports Lab on October 10, 2023.
Photo: Bradley Pearce/UNCW

The UNCW Esports program celebrated the grand opening of the new “Esports Gaming Lab,” a state-of-the-art electronic sports facility and edtech room supported by a generous donation from the Lenovo corporation.  

Lenovo donated more than $60,000 worth of computers--17 Lenovo Legion T730 PCs—that now help power the growing UNCW program. 

“This gift has allowed us to have the technology necessary to compete at the highest levels of collegiate competitive gaming,” said Watson College of Education Professor and Esports Program Coordinator Ray Pastore. “Without these machines we would not be able to compete in tournaments or host events. Having the support of North Carolina businesses like Lenovo means the world to my students and me.” 

As the new headquarters for UNCW’s Esports teams and gaming club members, the space will be used for team training, competition and events, while also creating more opportunity for student engagement, according to Pastore. 

The bigger and better equipped lab allows several teams to utilize the facility at one time for practice and matches. Pastore hopes to continue expanding the lab and its outreach to the gaming community both at UNCW and throughout the state.  

“UNCW is thrilled for the grand opening of the Esports lab,” said Provost James J. Winebrake. “Through the generous donor support of Lenovo, the lab will provide an incredible interdisciplinary experience for students by incorporating aspects of technology, business, education and liberal arts woven with fundamentals of the gaming field.” 

During the grand opening event, representatives from Lenovo’s Raleigh headquarters joined UNCW administrators and gaming club members to celebrate the new space and its potential. 

“Esports represents a dynamic intersection of technology, strategy, and collaboration, mirroring the very essence of Lenovo. This donation is a testament to our commitment to support the growth of esports and nurture the skills vital for success in the digital age,” said Gerald Youngblood, Chief Marketing Officer, Lenovo North America. “We look forward to the enthusiasm this lab ignites among students and are excited to support the next generation of critical thinkers, problem solvers, and innovators.”

Eden Bennett ’22, a UNCW alumna and founding member of the UNCW Esports Club who is now employed by Lenovo, proposed the idea to give back to the club that jumpstarted her love of and career in technology. 

“UNCW Esports has shown itself to be the definition of student-made and led,” Bennett said. “Being able to be a part of UNCW Esports at its infancy, to now giving back to the rapidly growing organization after graduating is such an amazing experience. UNCW is truly one of those universities that makes lifelong impacts on their students!” 

Plans are underway for UNCW to host a competitive tournament in the new lab against other state schools later this fall. In the spring, UNCW will host GameCon, a larger event that will include the local community, vendors and multiple onsite competitions. 

Additionally, on Oct. 11 at 9 a.m. EST, the UNCW Office of University Relations and the Watson College of Education launched the online world premiere of “Game On UNCW: Esports + Education,” a feature-length documentary about UNCW’s Esports offerings. 

The film examines the relationship between gaming and education, exploring themes of competition in Esports compared to traditional college athletic programs. See the documentary on the UNCW website

chancellor at the esports lab grand opening
 Students, faculty, staff and alumni gather with Chancellor Volety to celebrate the grand opening of the UNCW Esports Lab on October 10, 2023.  Eden Bennett '22, a founding member of the Esports Club and now employed by Lenovo, proposed the idea for the gift to her Lenovo colleagues (on right with backpack). Photo: Bradley Pearce/UNCW