Harrisburg Storm prepare for second annual HUE Invitational

HARRISBURG, PA. --- Soames Lovett-Darby, a freshman at the Harrisburg University of Science and Technology, is the "flex support" for the Harrisburg Storm Overwatch team.

From Toronto, Canada, Lovett-Darby said his nickname on the team is "The Rock," for his levelheadedness.

“I’m...barely alive when I play, I guess? But not in a bad way,” said Lovett-Darby.

Heading into the second annual HUE Invitational, his team has quite the reputation to uphold.

The Harrisburg Storm Overwatch Team is the defending national champions.

Lovett-Darby said the team has made "upgrades" since then.

“We had a long scouting period, considering a lot of players and I think that the players we picked up are like really good and they fit in really well. I think our team is really strong going into this tournament," said Lovett-Darby.

He said the team returned at the beginning of July, a little more than a month before his second semester started.

He said they practice for four hours after school five and a half days per week.

He says they look forward to "showing" their work paid off this weekend.

The HUE Invitational is doubling in size, growing from 32 schools and universities in 2018 to 64 in 2019.

It will feature more than 200 computers used by approximately 450 students.

Chad Smeltz, Director of Esports for Harrisburg University, said it will feature teams prominent to Pennsylvanians, such as Penn State University and team from the west coast.

“For somebody like San Jose State, coming all the way from San Jose, California, they’re flying on their own dime. It kind of shows you how serious these programs are starting to be because they’re able to do that for five, six, seven kids and that’s not cheap obviously," said Smeltz.

Last year feature a lot of firsts for the program, hosting its first invitational during its inaugural year as an esports program.

Along with the Overwatch national championship, Smeltz said the team also won the Midwest Campus Clash tournament in League of Legends.

He said he's interested to see how the program does now with the target on its back.

“Playing from an underdog and playing from a person on top is two completely different things. So you have to be used to people criticizing you, people analyzing you, people saying, OK, how do we beat you guys? I think that’s kind of part of the fun because if you are able to defend that, then you can say, OK, this is something that we’re doing well on and need to continue to do that," said Smeltz.

Three games will be featured at the 2019 HUE Invitational: Overwatch, League of Legends, and Hearthstone.

The Harrisburg Storm finished second in Overwatch and League of Legends at the invitational last year.

On Friday, pool play will start at 9 a.m. and run throughout the entire day, roughly 9-10 p.m, Smeltz said.

It's technically open to the public, but Smeltz said it's primarily set up for family, friends and high school students invited to watch.

Saturday will be the bracket-style tournament at the Whitaker Center Sunoco Theater, which holds 700 spectators.

Smeltz said they will have overflow available in the digital cinema.

Quarterfinals start at 9 a.m. with the semi-finals starting around noon.

The Hearthstone final will be at 4:30 p.m.

The League of Legends final will follow at 6 p.m.

Finally, the Overwatch final is scheduled to start around 8:30 p.m.

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