Esports Amass University Support with Stardom and Scholarships

NACC, TeSPA, CSL, IVYLoL, and WellPlayed are helping shake the collegiate scene as more universities backup students to pursue pro gaming dreams.

Who would of thought 10 years ago if you played video games you could become just as rich and famous as upcoming actors, musicians, and artists? Some of you may be scratching your heads, but for 19-year-old sophomore Loc Tran from San Jose State University in Northern California that is coming true.

Tran plays Jungler for team Sergio's Dream (SGD) representing San Jose State University. His team includes top laner Jacob "Jakiro" Wheelehan, mid laner Duke "ArcZSlash" Pham, ADC Hoang "The Best in SJ" Nguyen, and support Kenneth "Ken" Tang. Their match was watched by over 90,000 viewers. After the game was over, his reputation at school was instated. 

A lot of people stop me when I’m walking, They congratulate me. I thought that was pretty cool.

Major Ivy league universities and big universities have begun to establish teams to join the eSports hype. Many of these aspiring eSports pro players receive the same amount of scholarships given to athletes for playing football, hockey, and soccer. Esports started as a grass-roots endeavour with many tournaments like EVO not receiving and even being hindered by growth.

However, with the growth of games like DOTA 2 and League of Legends, many gaming companies are sweeping into to support organizations that have long fought for the right to hold tournaments with support. Other gaming companies have begun to devise eSports genres like Battleborn, Evolve, and Hearthstone deviating away from MOBA games.

The publicity power of these gaming communities are gaining such strong support that game developers and professors of media and tech institutes regard eSports as untapped playing field. Many schools, PR agencies, and media outlets are still unaware or unsure of what to make of eSports. However, if you view Intel's Unleash Greatness YouTube video, you will see the potential many organizations are missing out in not reaching out to outlets to jump on the bandwagon.

This is just how basketball was in the 1940s. A lot of the structure and organization you see in more formal athletics, that groundwork is still being laid down here.

- Christopher Wyatt, Senior Manager at Riot Games

If you take a look at the North American Collegiate Championship 2015 series, you will see it includes teams from all over the county with as many as 1,000 players competing. Divided up between partnered organizations like IVYLoL, CSL, Tespa, and WellPlayed the NACC is looking to take the collegiate scene to the next level making it seem like the college football/basketball scene of digital age.

It's not all sun shining though in eSports. If you aren't the crème of the crème you won't make the big bucks it takes to reach the financial backing to hold it full-time.

It is true CSL (Collegiate StarLeague) has over 450 schools competing in their League, but even with big corporations like Coca-cola, Amazon, Azubu, and Google encouraging students to aspire to their gaming dreams it takes a lot of time and effort to optimally perform. Top players skip or delay schooling to achieve the professional level of play it requires with consecutive practices, travel, interviews, social commitments, coaching, and strategy run-through. League of Legends also changes every patch forcing players to accommodate to the changes or fail to be on par with other pros. 

Robert Morris University Illinois embraced the imbalance of academia and eSports by recently offering up to 50% of the price of tuition, room, and board to 35 students. According to Kurt Melcher, the university’s associate athletic director, manyy other university athletic directors are interested in incorporating eSports into their programs.

Now is the time to truly aspire to your pro-gaming dreams, with major changes to coaching regulations, corporate sponsorships, collegiate teams, and public image we can see the future of eSports is looking pretty OP.

Published Dec. 10th 2014
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