When you think about sports, the usual suspects like football, soccer, basketball, and even ping-pong are sure to pop into your head of before eSports. A lot of people don’t even know that eSports exist. But with their rising popularity and the spread of technology in our everyday lives, eSports are set to take over the world—and college campuses. So let’s take a minute to learn more about eSports.
What are eSports?
eSports, or electronic sports, is just a fancy and inclusive name for competitive video gaming. Although it’s been around as long as video games have, eSports didn’t take off until the ’90s, when leagues and tournaments exploded onto the scene. eSports is really just an umbrella term; there are a limitless variety of games to play and tournaments to attend, making this activity accessible to everyone.
Related: List: Colleges Gamers Might Consider
How popular are eSports?
Pretty popular. One of the top games—League of Legends, a multiplayer battle arena game—gets upwards of 30 million players monthly, and its 2016 World Championship Final garnered more than 14.7 million viewers.
In 2018, Thursday Night Football was beat in viewers by the opening day of the Overwatch League, with an average of 280,000 viewers a minute. In fact, Business Insider reported in 2017 that by 2020, eSports will be a $1.5 billion industry. (Maybe it’s time to start up your Xbox again!)
What can you play?
The easy answer is anything; however, some games are more popular than others and have a pretty big place in eSports already. League of Legends, Dota 2, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive are three great examples, and games are pretty common on college campuses.
How do you watch games?
Thanks to Twitch, a live-streaming platform for gamers, watching competitive gaming is a breeze. All you have to do is find a game or player you like and tune in. Anyone can broadcast their game, so games happen nonstop. Places like YouTube and HLTV also stream live games, and on occasion, ESPN will air some of the biggest events.
What are eSports tournaments, and how much can you win?
Professional eSports tournaments work like other sport tournaments: teams or single players move from one event to the next until they reach the final match. Two of the largest tournaments are The International (Dota 2) and the League of Legends World Championship. In 2018, The International (Dota 2) broke its own 2017 record of the largest eSport tournament ever with a prize pool of over $25.3 million.
What do eSports have to do with college?
eSports are booming, and colleges have noticed. Schools like Maryville University of Saint Louis and Miami University have started varsity eSport teams and are among about 50 colleges that do so. In the same manner, more and more schools are offering eSports scholarships. Harrisburg University made history in 2018 by offering full-ride scholarships to its entire 16-player roster, and this trend is sure to continue at other universities.
Scholarships are widely available, and students are often recruited to play for varsity eSports teams the same way as other student-athletes. You can learn more about opportunities through the Next College Student Athlete’s in-depth guide to eSports scholarships on their website.
eSports offers a unique opportunity to students who love gaming and even students who don’t. Becoming involved in eSports can open you up to endless possibilities as the competitive video games garner more and more attention and respect—and even if you stay away from competitions, watching a game every now and then certainly wouldn’t be boring.