George Mason University’s competitive cyber club is headed to the National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (NCCDC) after beating out intense competition in a nationwide wildcard round.
Mason Competitive Cyber is a team of undergraduate students from different majors who spend their free time competing in various cyber competitions. Last year, the team won the CyberFusion State Cup, where they competed against all the universities in Virginia.
This year is the first time the team has advanced to the NCCDC since their first appearance in 2019. “There are two general kinds of competitions: jeopardy and attack-defense. MCC has traditionally excelled in the Jeopardy competitions. CCDC is an Attack-Defense competition. In 2019, MasonCC competed in the Mid-Atlantic CCDC for the very first time. That year we did not make it out of the qualifier round,” says Caleb Yu, vice president for the club.
After their initial loss, some team members weren’t sure if this was the competition for them. But they came back in 2020 and placed higher in their region. The nine regions of the country take the first-place winner from the regional competitions, and this year the team won second place for their region.
“Since we won second, we qualified for a wildcard round. We competed against the eight other second-place teams from the other regions. Once again, only the first-place team advances to the national finals,” says Yu.
The MCC team pulled out the win, coming in first, with Stanford University’s team taking second. “Stanford got third place in the national competition last year. When we noticed that they were also in the wildcard round, we knew that we'd have some fierce competition. It feels awesome to have advanced in place of a team that could have been seen as a heavy favorite,” he says.
The team will compete on April 23 through 25 against the top teams from across the country. “We are expecting some fierce competition from the other schools, but our confidence has never been higher,” says Yu.