Growth in Collegiate eSports

-By Tyler Massingale

The collegiate eSports scene has been growing at an incessant rate in the past few years. With video games and their professional scenes constantly growing, it’s only natural that more opportunities would rise on the college level.

There are many different organizations that have leagues for collegiate eSports. Collegiate Starleague (CSL) seems to be the go-to league if you’re looking to play eSports at a university. CSL was founded in 2009 and has only been growing since. They have over 200 colleges with teams in their leagues and the number is only going up as CSL and collegiate eSports grow.

There are many different games played on the collegiate level. CSL has leagues in 8 different games! These games can be played on PC, Xbox 1, PS4, and even on mobile. The games are as follows; League of Legends, Dota 2, Starcraft II, CS:GO, Overwatch, Hearthstone, Madden NFL, and Vainglory. While having decently popular leagues in most of their games, their League of Legends league (uLoL Campus Series) has to be their most successful. With help from Riot Games, the company that created League of Legends, CSL has managed to get over 200 college teams to compete for the championship title in the current season.

Another popular collegiate eSports league would have to be Heroes of the Dorm for the game, Heroes of the Storm. Heroes of the Dorm was created by Blizzard Entertainment in 2015, and was the largest North American college eSports tournament ever. In 2016, the tournament had 482 competitive teams from universities all across North America, where the top four teams competed live on ESPN. What were they competing for? Their college tuition, fully paid, for the rest of their college career. In addition to that, they also have $500,000 worth of scholarships and other prizes available

You might be wondering if collegiate eSports is only for the competitive player. No, many universities have eSports clubs that are open to all kinds of video game players. They actually encourage the casual player to join an eSports club, as not only would this help eSports grow as a community, but also help students make new friends and gain new interests. Traditionally, eSports clubs are just clubs where people can get together, play some games, and watch eSports.

More and more universities are becoming open to eSports and offering athletic scholarships for video games. In 2014, Robert Morris University became the first university to offer an eSports program. RMU offers lots of scholarships for people involved in competitive gaming, they also have built in gaming facilities and professional coaching. In 2016, the University of California, Irvine became the biggest school and first public university to launch an eSports program. UCI, with the help of Riot Games, launched the program based on League of Legends; however, more games will be available in the future. They will be opening a campus PC cafe, a place that anyone can go to use the computers and play games. Big universities offering eSports programs will definitely help spread the word about eSports and competitive gaming.

Collegiate eSports will only continue to grow. It will be just as big, or possibly bigger, than many collegiate level sports being played right now. The opportunities for collegiate eSports will continue to rise as more people get involved with eSports.

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