GMU Esports Makes Name at NACE Finals


Cara Chiswell
December 5, 2023

CS2 Patriots Team: from left to right
(Top Row) Grayson Wood (’24), Christian Birkelback (’27), Max Laping (’26)
(Bottom Row) Sameer Khan (’25), Cody Crocker (’27), Andrew Crist (’25)
Photo by: Justus Johnson ‘25

Just one year ago, George Mason University Esports didn’t have a Counter Strike team. Now, Mason has one that’s ranked second in the nation.

Counter Strike 2 (CS2), formally known as Counter Strike: Global Offensive, is one of the longest running esports titles globally. It was first released in 2012, so it was no surprise that the students at Mason were hungry for a competitive CS2 team. So, during the 2022-23 esports year, Grayson Wood (class of ‘24), known in-game as “dr1ver,”took action.

Wood worked with the GMU Esports leadership team to develop what they thought would be a small CS2 community at Mason. However, after having a spectacular turnout for tryouts and seeing the love of the game present on campus, the GMU Esports leadership team decided to make CS2 a varsity game title. By elevating the teams from club teams to varsity, GMU Esports dedicated time, funding, and other resources to two CS2 teams named Patriots and Academy.

Shortly after, the CS2 Patriots team started to make waves.

The Patriots found initial success during the National Association for Collegiate Esports (NACE) conference Varsity Premiere group stage in Fall 2023. They suffered only one loss in the season, falling to Fisher College, and ended up in a three-way tie for first place in their group. Due to their skill throughout the season, the Patriots earned a spot in the Varsity Premiere playoffs, where they began to make Mason history.

After taking down Stony Brook University in the quarterfinals and defeating Kansas State in the semifinals, the CS2 Patriots punched their ticket to the NACE CS2 Grand Finals at Boise State in Boise, Idaho.

This win marked the first time in GMU Esports history that a team had qualified for the National Championships.


GMU Esports team member Audrey Irwin (’25)
Photo by: Cara G Chiswell ’24

The team flew to Boise State to face Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) on December 3rd, 2023, for their chance to win $2,500 and a school title. Unfortunately, after taking an early lead against RIT in the first game of the series, the CS2 Patriots ended the series 1-2 following two more nail-biter games.

Although they didn’t win the championships, the CS2 Patriots returned to Fairfax with their heads held high, proud of their second-place finish and all they had accomplished in the season.

Now, the Patriots are gearing up for the Spring 2024 NACE season, where they hope to maintain their momentum and return to the National Championship—this time to take home gold.

About GMU Esports:

GMU Esports is a departmental student organization within Student Involvement at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. The organization places strong emphasis on building a community around gaming for approximately 2,000 students at GMU, while competing at the highest level in seven varsity titles. Students compete in VALORANT, League of Legends, Rocket League, Counter Strike 2, Overwatch 2, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and Call of Duty. For more information about GMU Esports, please visit or follow GMU Esports on Instagram @gmuesports, GMU Esports on YouTube, and X and Twitch @gmu_esports.

Posted in Uncategorized.