🐦 No football team? No problem.

How a group of George Mason University students put their esports team on the map.

Good morning, DMV!

Today’s factoid of the day is: One of the world's largest stockpiles of nuclear weapons is located at a U.S. Navy base near Seattle, which is partially defended by trained dolphins.

We’ve got something a little different for ya today… but we think you’ll enjoy this one. Let’s get right into it!


GMU Counter-Strike reaches grand finals of NACE Starleague

Did you know that in 2022, two-hundred and sixty million fans around the world tuned in to watch their favorite esports title? For reference, that’s about two Super Bowls.

Huh? You haven’t heard of esports?

No worries — we’ve got you covered:

Esports [noun]

Definition: multiplayer video games played competitively for spectators.

George Mason University famously has never had an NCAA football team. Behind the scenes though, a small group of students have been slowly filling all of those empty gym lockers with mousepads instead of shoulder pads.

GMU Esports started as a tiny club in 2017. As esports has grown over the years, so has the club, and in 2020 — GMU Esports became an official student organization within the school.

This move created a year-round home for the broader esports community at Mason, which includes a dedicated room to practice for the players competing professionally in titles like Rocket League and Super Smash Brothers.

There’s one man, however, who used these newfound resources to take Mason gaming to a place they’d never been.

In 2020, freshman Counter-Strike player Graysondr1verWood and his teammates had just come off a brutal elimination in the NACE Starleague — collegiate esports’ version of March Madness.

Fast forward to the end of last year, Wood returned to GMU Esports (with a vengeance), this time as the coach and manager of the varsity Counter-Strike squad.

The Fall 2023 Counter-Strike roster would go on to be almost undefeated throughout the regular season, securing themselves a spot at the NACE Starleague tournament once again.

In the playoffs, the Patriots had their first matchup with Stony Brook University. Stony Brook was considered the heavy favorite as they were the regular season champions. Yet, George Mason dominated SBU, allowing them to win only 6 rounds in the entire series.

After taking down Stony Brook, the Patriots continued their so far impressive run by defeating Kansas State University to secure their spot at the national championship in Boise, Idaho.

GMU Counter-Strike at the grand finals in Idaho.

In the finals, GMU faced off against the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) for a chance to claim the national title and $2,500 in prize money.

Despite taking an early lead by winning the first map, the Patriots couldn't maintain their momentum, dropping the next two maps in hard-fought battles. They ultimately fell 1-2 in the series against the talented RIT squad.

While the Patriots came up short of a national championship, their second-place finish was still an incredible accomplishment. This historic run by the Patriots put their Counter-Strike program on the map, and sets the stage for future trophies to come.

Now, the Patriots are in the middle of the Spring 2024 NACE season, where they hope to maintain their momentum and return to the grand finals — this time to take home the gold.

If you’d like to keep up with GMU Esports, you can follow them on Twitter and check out their podcast linked below.


That’s all we got for ya today. We hope you enjoyed this one. We tried something a little different today. In the next issue, we’ll be back to our regular format.

See ya next time,

Team Just Outside D.C.

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