Johnston Community College Campus Series Recruiting LAN | Event Recap

Johnston Community College Campus Series Recruiting LAN | Event Recap


This past weekend, Stay Plugged In invited student esports athletes and college representatives to Johnston Community College just outside of Raleigh for the first in-person recruiting event of the Fall season. The JCC Campus Series event, as well as other upcoming Stay Plugged In live events, offer a unique experience for students to meet colleges in person before, between, and after live competition and inquire about their esports programs. College representatives in return are able to observe their list of recruits as they perform, and can start the conversation with players to see if they might be a good fit for their program.

The two-day event featured Rocket League, Valorant, and Super Smash Brothers Ultimate, with a group stage on Saturday, and a final bracket on Sunday, where players made the push for the $900 total prize pool. In addition to the 40 PCs on the floor and on the main stage, tables were also lined up in the event space just inside the venue entrance, where colleges where stationed to provide information about their schools. The prize pool is nice, but quite a few of the 500+ colleges in our network provide scholarship opportunities, which can be much more impactful for these future college students. Over the course of the weekend, we captured many of the moments that will spark the recruitment process live in person, and in the hundreds of recruitment messages sent on the Stay Plugged In website.

Let's take a look back at some of the incredible moments from the event at JCC, starting with the overall experience of those who attended, followed by the breakdown of competition title-by-title including results, winning teams, stand out players, and much more.


On Saturday, we had a special guest caster on for Rocket League. Jonathan Martin, Esports Director of Post University joined me on the call for the Group Stage and gave some pretty insightful tips for those seeking collegiate opportunities. On Sunday, winning teams jumped onto the broadcast mics following their big moments to reflect on their gameplay that led them to a Championship title.

Those interviews were awesome, but remember also that the collegiate esports recruiting piece dives much deeper than just the competition. For that reason, I sat down with a combination of students, parents, and college directors during their breaks within the event for a 1-on-1 conversation about their experiences with Stay Plugged In. Check out what they had to say, starting with the players.


B1AZETAP | NC State Esports

CELO | Capybara Club

HAZ, WALKER, and KAY | Mariachi Gang

POLAR | Insomniacs


A great variety of perspectives came from these player's interviews. It truly highlights the importance of player communication in the process. For example, Jeremy "Polar" Meyers had been to college in the past, and is looking to return to finish his degree. He hadn't participated in esports the first time around, but would love to return to school using the opportunities that Stay Plugged In provides. Jeremy is a great example for those who are looking to return to college that it is never too late to get back in, finish up school, and have some fun with it in the meantime.

Both Bernie "B1azetap" Igba and Brianna "Zorachrono" Wilson already have collegiate esports experience. B1azetap, a senior at NC State, talked about the importance of a strong balance of personal and team mentality in the "locker room". Zorachrono's experience isn't as extensive, this semester being her first semester on the team. However, because she has recently gone through the onboarding process that all students will be going through, she was able to provide some great insight on what it is like in the first year of joining a program.

Highschool students Celo, Haz, Walker, and Kay still have a little bit of time ahead of them. All four have already been using the Stay Plugged In website to message colleges. At an average age of 15, Haz, Walker, and Kay have gotten an early start in the process, and having spoke with them throughout the weekend, I am excited for what is in store for them academically and competitively. Same applies to the junior CELO. He just recently joined Stay Plugged In, and he has already been discussing possible landing spots to jumpstart his college career.



POST UNIVERSITY | Jonathan Martin


We recently spoke with Josh Lanza of St. Lawrence University during our online recruitment event, Carry 2 College, and he was also able to make it out to this event. Needless to say, I reached out for a follow up interview to catch up and see why he chose to travel from upstate New York for the showcase. He mentioned that St. Lawrence University has every traditional sports team, and that the teams travel across state lines in the same manner to expand their program. Jonathan Martin spoke about his online/in-person hybrid program at Post University. Like Josh, Jonathan knows that traveling to scout is necessary to expand their already established program and to keep it growing.

Chantoni Grant of NC Wesleyan College emphasized the importance of players who can accept and thrive in their role. Along the same lines as what Mark Link of the University of Mary Washington (who was also at JCC) said during C2C, Chantoni stressed that not everyone needs to be a leader. He said that just because you are not a leader doesn't make you any less important to the team, and that everyone grows together.



Two groups played a total of three rounds on Saturday to determine seeding for the Final Bracket on Sunday. Group A hosted the championship team from the CVCC Campus Series LAN earlier this year, team X13. Meanwhile, Group B consisted of a talented USC squad, the JCC Jags, and the Mariachi Gang, the full team I interviewed in the header above.

Pretty stellar start for the former champions in Group A as they went [3-0] in matches and a perfect (9-0) in games on the day. They took down teams like Wake Forest, William Peace, and Grand Champion level free agent team "Dreamland". Meanwhile in Group B, it was USC going perfect on the day and receiving the #2 seed in the Final Bracket just behind team X13.


Round 1 began with a couple of sweeps with USC and Dreamland on top, sending them to the next round to face off with one another. On the other side of the bracket, we saw perhaps the most intense match of the bracket. As a play-in for rights to challenge X13 in round 2, the young Mariachi Gang fought to the very end against an established Wake Forest team, but came up just one game short. They mentioned that it is likely that we will see them at the next couple of live events, and our team is excited to see the progress they make leading up to them.

USC and X13 both put in some work in the Semifinals and their wins would create the finals match we all anticipated seeing after the Group Stage. It was USC that would take the first game and left us wondering if X13 had finally met their match in the LAN environment. Leave it to ADRIFT to silence the nay-sayers. Three straight wins from X13 would push USC toward the brink of elimination. In their Semifinals match, USC did drop a game but then battled back with three straight wins, so a comeback wasn't impossible at this point. They gave us a tease with a win in Game 5, but a quick answer back from X13 would secure their victory in the Finals. Congratulations to ADRIFT and YAGS for becoming repeat champions, and to SHANAENAY for joining them for the JCC Campus Series Rocket League title!








The format would see only three of the five teams per group advancing to the Final Bracket in Valorant this past weekend. Both groups featured players that we have seen in our weekly Valorant tournaments, Road to Radiant. In fact the entire team at NC State from Road to Radiant were present at JCC, ready to run the table of Group A. A perfect [4-0] in maps played would give them the number 1 spot on Sunday. This run would include a big (13-2) win over Insomniacs to kick off the day. You'll find out why that is a key point when we get to Sunday. Insomniacs would make it to Day 2 out of the group, alongside NC State and Limestone University.

Group B was the Wake Forest show, as they also went a perfect [4-0]. Capybara and CVCC Red would also rock winning records in the Group Stage to advance to the bracket. For JCC Jags, CVCC Black, Mist, and Dreamland the competition may have been over, but the weekend wouldn't be completely over. A few of them spoke with me for interviews (see above) and they took every opportunity to speak with colleges throughout the day.


Round 1 was incredibly exciting in terms of high school talent. Limestone University and CVCC Red were both taken out by the young teams, sending them into Round 2 for their second challenge against more established teams.

Although Capybara came close, they would fall to NC State in the Semifinals. Although a losing effort, the junior CELO showed his talent to scouts. He told me in his interview that scouts from a couple of schools were thrilled to talk to him regardless, since his skill both in the game and in the classroom has been supreme.

Wake Forest vs. Insomniacs in the Semifinals was incredibly entertaining. Insomniacs ran out to a pretty extensive lead early, but Wake Forest were consistently able to string multiple rounds in a row over the course of the map. Insomniacs eventually edged out Wake Forest, and 15 year old IGL, REDDOT would lead his team to the Finals.

In the Finals best-of-3 match between NC State and Insomniacs, the first map gave Insomniacs some serious flashbacks to their Group Stage match mentioned above. It wasn't the (13-2) finish as before, but NC State still ran some pretty effective strategies that kept Insomniacs from breaking out of their comfort zone. With nothing to lose in Map 2, REDDOT wanted to create some chaos and break his team out of his shell. The night-and-day change in positioning and timing was enough to keep the score close towards the end, and then a few giant plays from MYKE and REDDOT kept the team alive with a win to even the series at 1.

The final map was just as tight and tense as the last. Being down 4-8 at the half after defending Haven isn't bad, but for Insomniacs it is still is nerve-racking letting NC State within 5 rounds of the championship, especially when RANGERJ was popping off the way he was. MYKE of Insomniacs, a junior out of Indiana, would match that energy on attack and jumped atop the frag list. He joined UNKNOWNN above 20 kills as they won eight of the next nine rounds to push to match point. MYKE fell with a minute left in the (12-10) round to make it a 5 to 3 advantage for NC State, but REDDOT's timing on the push out of garage allowed him to land three kills in a row to change the nature of the fight completely. In the last push for a retake for NC State, even though they got the first two picks, simple trades due to the favorable numbers finished the comeback for Insomniacs both in the game and in the series.

Congratulations to Insomniacs for the incredible underdog story they put together to earn the JCC Campus Series Valorant Championship!








In a Swiss-style format, players face an opponent with the same record as the bracket continues. Therefore, the Swiss Stage format on Saturday gave college representatives an excellent showing of close battles throughout the day. This allows them to sense both skill level and how the players would perform in close games and pressure situations.

Stand outs in the Group Stage include CHUGS who went undefeated, as well as SOULKINGLJ, and 3MARIO465, both of whom just dropped one match on Saturday. Everyone hovering over the Smash Ultimate station inside the event space were dying to see a match between these (4-1) players, since both suffered their only loss to CHUGS. Also, the question that resonated through JCC was whether either of them, or anyone else could take the #1 seed down on Sunday.


All best-of-5's in the Final Bracket on Sunday. CHUGS would continue his tear on his side of the bracket. He defeated all opponents in less than 15 minutes elapsed. Forget that they were all sweeps, he was looking to speed-run towards the Finals. On the other side of the coin, SOULKINGLJ and 3MARIO465 were taking care of business in their matchups.

It was as if they knew the matchup everyone wanted. Either that, or they were just confident enough to keep sweeping their matches as well in an effort to challenge each other late in the bracket. They continued to press forward into the Semifinals making their matchup a reality. Someone needed to push for an upset against undefeated CHUGS in the Finals, and only one would get the opportunity to do so. 3MARIO465 dug deep in the first game for a win, and when Game 2 came around, you could sense it would be close to it's conclusion. Though a sweep in favor of Mario, every game was close enough to attract quite the crowd of fans and recruiters around them.

In the Finals, 3Mario just couldn't quite find the same weak points in CHUGS as he found in everyone else he had faced. He would fall to his krytonite for the last time, and CHUGS would finish his perfect run through the weekend and became your Super Smash Brothers Ultimate JCC Campus Series LAN champion! Congratulations!

A big thank you goes out to Johnston Community College for providing the event space and for the help leading up to the event. We would also like to thank all of the college representatives, student athletes, and parents who made the trip to take part in making this such a great event. Your support allows us to provide these events consistently. To check out more upcoming events, make sure to visit our events page on this site!