BLOOMINGTON (WEEK) -- Past the Shirk Center and the athletics fields is a new hidden gem on Illinois Wesleyan's campus: a state-of-the-art e-sports facility.
The two-story space contains 54 new gaming PC's, a gaming coliseum, two practice rooms, a broadcast studio, and student lounges.
IWU E-Sports program director Callum Flecther started the Titans program in 2018 and has seen it grown into what it is now.
"I hasn't really sunk in yet," said Fletcher as he looked around the facility. "To be able to come in to an industry that you weren't too familiar with and suddenly, you're one of the pioneers with this space. This university has been so supportive. It captures everything Illinois Wesleyan wants to capture with their e-sports program."
In just two years, the program has gained national attention earning a No. 12 national ranking in the Spring 2020 ESPN League of Legends Coaches' Poll along with tournament appearances and marquee victories.
Fletcher hopes the new facility helps players sharpen their gaming skills and also get students to bond.
"We have game nights. We have watch parties. We do all of the things that students wants us to do that aren't necessarily competitive gamers and a space like this helps grow all of that," said Fletcher.
Sophomore Eddy Kimbrough was recruited from California and enjoys the new facility and the university's commitment to developing the program.
"I would come here sometimes and do my classes here in the morning. I can study here. It's an environment that I feel is really supportive and conducive," said Kimbrough.
In addition to enhancing gameplay skills and a sense of community, the program is committed to keeping players safe during the COVID-19 era.
Every gaming pod has plexiglass in between the players and sanitizing stations can be found at "every major entrance, exit and intersection."
The new facility marks just the beginning of what could be a longstanding history for e-sports in Central Illinois.