Robert Morris University to Offer First E-Sports Scholarship for League of Legends
Robert Morris University, based in Chicago, has recently announced that they will be supporting the first varsity eSport team, starting with a League of Legends squad.
The announcement involves everything associated with a normal varsity sport. That means scholarship, recruiting, and intense competition. Student-athletes will be able to earn up to 50% of both tuition and room and board fees for playing the online game. Associate Athletic Director of RMU Kurt Melcher says that "Robert Morris University has always been at the forefront of providing opportunities for a diverse student population with different interests and skills. League of Legends is a competitive, challenging game which requires significant amount of teamwork to be successful."
Riot Games recently firmly stated that there will never be a League of Legends 2. They want to keep the game running for as long as possible, making improvements and adjustments to the game at every possible point. They want, in other words, for the game to be a true sport, not just a video game. This is an unprecedented goal. Most competitive video games don't last more than a few years, with the most successful single games lasting around a decade (Smash Bros., Starcraft: Brood War) or so.
Not only that, offering scholarships and four year future for potential college players requires a firm belief that the game will be around for a while. This is not a club or group -- this is a serious, competitive team.
RMU will begin play in the fall of 2014, competing in the decently popular Collegiate Star League. In the CSL, 103 schools will compete for a chance to win Riot's North American Collegiate Championship at the end of the North American LCS Spring Split with $100,000 in scholarship money up for grabs. The announcement of a university supported varsity eSport team is huge for the industry. For a division 1 school such as Robert Morris to support such a team is a symbol of confidence for eSports continued success and growth.