Students interested in esports are now able to take advantage of Campus Recreation’s newly dedicated gaming space, The Vault. The Vault is the practice and competition space for Redbird Esports’ fall and spring semester. 

Located on the second floor of the Student Fitness Center, The Vault features 25 powerful gaming PCs equipped with high-end monitors and SteelSeries gaming peripherals.  

“We’re going to have the capacity for people to play on the most competitive playing field and have them using what the pros are using without having to incur that cost on their own,” Redbird Esports Program Director David Kirk said.  

Redbird Esports players look at a touchscreen in The Vault

A large, interactive touchscreen allows players to strategize, review film of past matches, and coordinate with their teammates.

The Vault will help Redbird Esports chase greatness during their inaugural season. Illinois State’s teams have already created a bit of a buzz in the collegiate esports world based on the strength of our rosters.

“We’re all very excited to play in our upcoming season and hope to go as far as we can with our group,” said Patrick McGrath, a junior who has been a driving force for the Overwatch scene on campus. “It was an exciting reveal to see The Vault for the first time, with only the glow of the computers visible at first. Our logo was backlit, and that really made me do a double-take.”

The technology in The Vault also allows Redbird Esports to build academic partnerships across campus. The program is already working closely with creative technologies to host game design classes in The Vault. Students that are passionate about design, marketing, and content creation are also being invited to use the computers for their projects and to help Redbird Esports promote their program. 

Even though The Vault is designed with competitive play in mind, casual gamers will be welcome to use the space in the future 

“Students will have the ability to practice, compete, or just hang out and game,” Kirk said. 

Student playing PC game

The Vault has some of the most popular games already loaded onto its computers for students looking to hone their skills or try esports for the first time.

Campus Recreation staff will be on hand to help users install the software they need to play the games they want to play with no restrictions. By default, the computers are preloaded with some of the most popular titles, including Rocket LeagueLeague of Legends, and Overwatch. If a student owns a license for a game not already loaded to the machine, they will be able to download and play that title. In the future, Redbird Esports hopes to transition out of The Vault and into a new space on campus. The plan is to keep The Vault in campus recreation as an additional gaming lab on campus even after the program proper moves to a different facility. 

Technology purchasing and setup was handled by Student Affairs IT, who have been strong partners with Redbird Esports from the beginning.

“The Vault positions Redbird Esports to be a leader in collegiate esports, providing both the technology and facility for a successful varsity program,” said Rob Bailey, Student Affairs IT director. “I am excited for the opportunities for both engagement and competition that this space offers, and look forward to the continued growth of esports at Illinois State. It is truly something that I am excited about, and I’m sure our students will be as well.”

Apply now for fall 2021.

The Vault was designed by University Marketing and Communications with input from Campus Recreation staff. Evan Walles, graphic designer, explained his thought process as he was working on the space. 

I wanted to make something that felt very energetic and exciting that brought in the ISU brand and merged it with an esports feel,” he said. “I wanted it to feel youthful, cool, and fun.” 

Kirk couldn’t be happier with how the Vault turned out. 

“For me, I wanted that piece where a gamer could walk through it and get a strong first impression when they visit campus,” he said. “That is what I needed to grow this program and Evan gave it to us.”

How to get involved Interested in esports? Join the Redbird Esports Discord server! It is a great place to meet members of the Redbird community who share your interests. Want to see our teams in action? Check out the Redbird Esports Twitch channel. Have additional questions? Contact David Kirk at