eSports on college campuses: What efforts are being made at UF?

By Joshua Rall

For the Pulse

In 2015, eSports are on the rise, from tournaments with pooled prize money ranging in the millions, to now two colleges creating their own varsity eSports teams.

According to USA Today, Robert Morris University has created its own varsity League of Legends eSports team. For those of you who don’t know, League of Legends is an online strategy game, where players form two teams of five and attempt to capture each other’s base.

On Dec. 19, the University of Pikeville announced that they would be making League of Legends an official varsity sport at their campus, too, becoming the second team to do so, according to the Collegiate StarLegue’s website.

At Robert Morris University this means scholarships “up to 50% of tuition and 50% of room and board — up to $19,000 in scholarship money,” read the USA Today article.

“What we’re starting to see is what many are calling the rise of eSports. We’re seeing, for example, ESPN, which typically has been for regular sports—they are starting to host tournaments. Last year they hosted the Invitational, which is a world-wide Dota 2 tournament,” says James Upton, president of the TAG gaming club here at University of Findlay.

Dota 2 is a game similar to League of Legends. The pooled prize money for the tournament was $10 million according to USA Today. According to the Verge, over 20 million people watched it live online throughout the weekend, with over two million watching at the same time.

So what’s being done at UF?

“I have initiated conversations with [Student Services] about opening up a partnership between the University of Findlay and TeSPA, which is an eSports association. They’re a collegiate group that helps colleges blossom their eSports sectors essentially. Students Services said they would like to investigate it further, look into it, but I feel that they kind of put us on the back burner. I haven’t heard back from them,” said Upton.

He says he made his pitch to them back in October.

“Basically we’re starting small, but we’re wanting to go to tournaments and kind of show that it’s actually a thing. It’s not just, you know, like, video games for fun,” says Jacob Babione, a member of the TAG gaming club and Findlay Black, the gaming club’s eSports team.

“I had this whole pitch planned in case we needed it: about how there’s a lot you can learn playing on a team,” says Abigail Linhardt, also a member of TAG and Findlay Black.

Teamwork, learning to lead, and learning how to follow are some of the lessons she listed.

At least for the time being, eSports are limited only to the TAG gaming club here at Findlay. But one wonders if maybe they should start looking at it more seriously.

“They’re getting ahead and they should be, that’s for sure. eSports are really big, and the longer people wait to get on board, the farther they will be behind,” says Babione.

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