Fanshawe Fuel Esports Awards 2024: Celebrating skill, community, and growth

An award recipient is shown on stage, while crowd members watch on at the Fuel Awards at Fanshawe College. CREDIT: MAURICIO PRADO
The Fanshawe Fuel Esports Awards 2024 honoured the very best in gaming at Fanshawe College.

On April 12, the Fanshawe Student Union (FSU) celebrated the Fanshawe Fuel Esports Awards 2024. Esports coordinator for the FSU and chairperson of Esports Canada Post-Secondary Tyler Hetherington said the event honoured the players’ unparalleled skill and talent and recognized the vibrant community that “breathes life into the Fanshawe Fuel Esports program.”

“Over time, the world of competitive gaming, or Esports, has seen a startling increase in popularity. What was once a specialized hobby is now a worldwide passion,” Hetherington said. “This is for gamers by gamers.”

According to Hetherington, the Fuel program grew from casual, fun weekly tournaments in the old Forwell Hall when he was the FSU events coordinator. 

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“That grew to 24 teams competing in 15 different game titles,” Hetherington said. “That is more than 150 players.”

A new degree of accessibility has been introduced to the gaming industry with the emergence of online gaming platforms like Twitch and YouTube, making it possible for players to interact and compete globally.

“We had come to close to 100 streams this year,” Hetherington said.

He added that it is an honour for him to have an Esports room on campus equipped with 11 high-end gaming computers and five console stations.

“It is a beacon for students day and night,” Hetherington said.

FSU publications and communications manager John Said said he never thought it would become so big when they started this project several years ago. 

“At first, we scour the markets to find some Nintendos and some old TVs,” Said said. “It is crazy to think that now we have a state-of-the-art thanks to the players who have always helped fuel this initiative.”

Content Creator of the Year award winner, Veronica Visca, said gaming has always been part of her life. 

“My dad is a computer programmer, so I developed a passion for tech and specifically gaming since I was little,” Visca said. 

She said that what she enjoys the most when gaming is connecting with people. Fanshawe Fuel Esports Most Valuable Player award winner, Tyler Bello, said that gaming for him has always been about the satisfaction of sharing experiences and celebrating the team’s accomplishments. 

“I am astounded. It makes me want to play more and connect with more people,” Bello said. 

FSU marketing manager Deena Griffin shared her experiences having kids who also love gaming, and how it’s helped her understand the importance of Fanshawe’s Esports program. 

“I have found that gaming requires players to solve difficult puzzles, plan, and make quick choices,” Griffin said. “These mental challenges can help improve problem-solving, logical reasoning, and critical thought, ultimately leading to academic success.”

FSU executive director John Riddell said that when he joined the FSU last year, he talked with Hetherington and was “completely confused and fascinated” as he felt he was introduced to a new world. 

“The word community has come up a lot during these awards, and it makes me happy because, in the end, that is all that matters,” Riddell said. “The bridges and connections we made and the challenges we have overcome together make our bonds more robust.” 

All award winners and nominees shared their appreciation for the FSU and Hetherington for supporting and promoting Fuel Esports.