The world of E-Sports and professional gaming has garnered a large following over the past decade. Revenues have topped over $1.1 billion globally in 2020 which has led to a 15 per cent growth in the industry year over year.

Many people are now trying to create a name for themselves by playing the games they have grown up with. 

Dante “Checko” Ceccarelli, a second year sports management student at Humber College is one of those people who are trying to succeed in an expanding marketplace. 

Ceccarelli is the player/coach for the Humber Call of Duty (COD) Gold and Blue teams competing in the College Call of Duty League (CCL) for the 2021 season. 

The CCL was established in 2018 and they are in their 3rd season of play. There are currently 180 teams that compete in the CCL across the U.S and Canada, with the Humber Blue and Gold teams ranking 32nd and 52nd respectively.

In June 2020, Ceccarelli was the coach of the Humber team that entered a Tespa Invitational and went on to win $15,000 after beating Texas A&M in the final. That’s a feeling that Ceccarelli describes as “insane”.

Now in his third season as coach, Ceccarelli has gradually developed his strategies to be competitive in any match they play.

“I didn’t do much coaching during my first season because, to be frank, the team knew more than me at that point. We were bouncing ideas off each other as we let the team do their thing”, said Ceccarelli, “Honestly I think it worked out better than I anticipated to be honest.”

For the 2021 season Ceccarelli says he’s taking a different route with things as he is splitting the workload with his friend Owen Wilmont.

A workload that has been growing for these students. 

“It’s so tough, Humber ESports makes sure that education comes first but online school has really been killing us all.” Ceccarelli makes his focus clear as he spends most of his time doing his school work or practising with the team. 

“You don’t really get much downtime, but we are all very committed, we all motivate each other to get online to play scrimms (scrimmages).”

Motivation to keep playing is key for Ceccarelli’s plans in the future, “We took a couple losses at the beginning of this season, this disheartened us for a bit, especially coming off a season where we won 39 games in a row.”

These losses come as motivation to Ceccarelli and the team to get better

“You get one or two losses and you start to realize that you’re not untouchable and more practice needs to be done.” 

He says that now the team is much more willing to get on a practice and working on the team chemistry by bouncing ideas off each other which he says is a big difference compared to last year.

“We all consider ourselves to be really close friends, we send memes to each other and roast each other to keep the spirits high, we all enjoy being around each other,” Ceccarelli let his team pick who they wanted to play with. “I wasn’t going to be that one guy who forced people to play with others, I really wanted to make sure they meshed with each other well and really like the people they were going to commit their time with.”

Looking at his future after his time in Humber, Ceccarelli knows that he wants to pursue his ESports dream. Even if the answer isn’t clear to where he wants to go at this point he has some ideas for it.

“Working for a company’s social media would be cool, managing a whole team that would be awesome, there are so many jobs in the ESports industry and there will be plenty more opening up in the coming years, I’m just excited to see where this industry will take me.”

In his downtime, Ceccarelli typically watches competitive games like Counter Strike: Global Offensive, Valorant and League of Legends because he loves to watch others play at the best of their abilities, like watching an NBA or NHL game. 

When he is away from COD he likes to play single-player games, in particular he goes back to revisit The Binding of Isaac from 2011, which is a puzzle-focused, dungeon crawler game. 

He uses the skills from The Binding of Isaac like, “patience and forward thinking”, to transfer them into his coaching skills. “The game teaches you to relax a little bit and take your time and it is great for people who make impulsive decisions”. 

In a game setting which is as fast-paced and the need for lighting quick reflexes is imperative one impulsive decision could be the deciding factor between winning or losing.