With more and more people tuning in to watch professional esports tournaments, larger companies are turning their heads into an area of esports that has remained mostly untapped, colleges. More colleges are looking into homing esport teams and there’s been a lot more support for college student teams from tournament organizers. There’s been major leagues and tournaments for games like Heroes of the Storm, Hearthstone, Overwatch, CS:GO, and more. One of the biggest tournaments was Heroes of the Dorm, which was officially sponsored by Blizzard and TESPA, in which the players fight for the ultimate prize, tuition paid for their college. TESPA also hosts various other leagues, most notably the Hearthstone collegiate league, offering a $3,500 scholarship to each player of the winning team. OP Live is another event hosted by Team Envy and Dallas Fuel that hosted various events, including an Overwatch and Fortnite tournament. The OU Esports Association Overwatch team participated in the tournament and got a first-hand look at the future of collegiate esports. As more and more universities pour money into their esports programs, those that do are recruiting some of the best players and establishing themselves at the top of the scene. So what are the top universities doing to set themselves apart? Besides having a dedicated esports club, many universities trial players to conduct them into their varsity teams and give them dedicated practice areas. Just like a college football team or a basketball team, the universities are looking for the best in the professional scenes at a young age.
So why hasn’t collegiate esports grown when the industry has been flourishing? Unlike other sports, the best players quickly join major teams at an early age, many even before they graduate high school. They put their professional esport careers before education, and the majority of them don’t go on to earn a college degree. If collegiate esports was to grow, it would give them a chance to do both. Esports has a fairly early retirement age, with most players retiring before they even hit their thirties. While many players have the opportunity in jobs in esports later in life trying their luck as an analyst, coach, or another part of esports, not all of them have the qualifications or experience to succeed later in life. Not only would these players have a shot to play video games professionally but have a backup plan later in life with a degree. With organizations like Team Envy and TESPA helping develop the field, collegiate esports is beginning to become a legitimate part of esports itself, housing talent that can convert into professional players. As esports is still in its development stage, this is an opportune moment for universities and organizations to assert themselves into the industry, and help develop talent.