The college esports scene is ready for a boom in 2022

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The past 10 years have seen immense growth in the esports industry, with the Washington Post calling the 2010s the “epoch.”teen gamesWith major competitions like the introduction of Twitch in 2011 and the first League of Legends Esports began to gain increased coverage and growth in the 2010s, after seeing a prize pool of $100,000 in a single year at the World Championships.

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Competitive esports at the professional level has seen major competitions, with stadiums such as Madison Square Garden sold out in 2016, and some sports even scheduled for medals at the Asian Games 2022.

One area that has seen growth within the larger industry is collegiate esports. Colleges across the United States are launching esports programs at an increasing rate, including Pace University And this University of Arizona, adding to the over 100 programs currently in existence. Some of these programs may have started as student-run clubs, but many are now seeing participation in organized leagues.

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So, where does collegiate esports stand now and where could it go for everyone involved? With increasing support from colleges and universities in the form of program investments, scholarships, and continued interest from students, collegiate esports is poised to become an extra-curricular as a sport in general.

Current status of collegiate esports

Collegiate esports, like the industry as a whole, has seen growth over the years. This increase can be reflected in more students participating in esports programs. For example, the State University of New York (SUNY) observed 2,077 students enrolled in a SUNY esports program in the 2021 fall semester, compared to 636 students enrolled in the 2020 fall semester.

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This increase can be seen in other areas as well.

caitlin lieutenant, Esports Head Coach at St. Mary’s University, shared some insights about the growth seen in collegiate esports. “In the last few years (2017-2020). I have seen tremendous growth in the collegiate esports space,” Tenient tells Nerdshala. ‘There has been an increase of universities and colleges investing in esports programs and offering support to student organizations or clubs, and an increase in the esports competition available to match the increase in demand. Some contributing factors include support for college esports competition from game developers and universities investing in esports programs as a retention and recruitment tool.

a 2019 report Which surveyed 281 leaders in K-12 and higher-education institutions around the world, found that schools were adopting esports programs for a variety of reasons, as Tenient outlined. Those surveyed said their esports programs helped improve campus experiences and boost overall student recruitment and retention. Student recruitment was reported as a factor by 41% of those surveyed.

Like the esports industry as a whole, collegiate esports is growing with the support of schools and external organizations such as the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE), which provides membership to over 170 colleges and universities that have their own esports leagues. .

kenneth utama, Dota’s previous director at UBC Esports, noted that collegiate esports also grows alongside the larger esports industry. “Most of these [university] Clubs may have existed for a long time, but are now on the rise due to esports entering the mainstream,” Utama tells Nerdshala. “The University of British Columbia Esports Association, for example, has existed since 2012, but it Really taking off for the past few years. As university esports clubs grow, schools are more than willing to invest in them. ,

Collegiate Esports and a Bright Future

Esports as a Whole Industry Is Projected to See 29.6 million viewers in 2022, with those numbers only set to increase in the coming years. Outside of the increased audience for esports, those working within the collegiate space have a brighter outlook for the future with greater growth in areas such as student scholarships, further investment in esports programs, and the community found in sportspersons. Involves continuous flourishing. Self.

tarvis malone, director of esports at Trine University and a past esports player himself, can speak directly to the community development of his program.

“Speaking from my personal experience of being at our convention, [collegiate esports] Turned into a comrade and family within our game. Recently, we took our conference playoffs offline for the first time and I can tell the students and staff enjoyed everyone’s presence. says Malone. “They were able to talk in person rather than argue. It is normal to have disagreements, debates, rivalries, etc., but it is much better to be in person to get a better understanding of everything.”

Our Overwatch team is playing the first game against WMU! being streamed on https://t.co/afckOsMqTa pic.twitter.com/4KEOout4Qw

& mdash; Trine Sports (@TrineESPORTS) November 20, 2021

In person or online, the collegiate esports community only seems to be growing. During Utama’s time at the University of British Columbia, the school’s sports federation Has become a huge community Discord server.

Along with the community, scholarship has become an important factor for students. According to NACE, more than 200 member universities contribute over $16 million in esports scholarships on an annual basis. As for Utama, he expects to see an increase within scholarship offerings from schools in the future.

“I certainly expect to see a lot of growth. Sci-Scientific [esports] As time goes on, these will become more important as schools start accepting esports in their fold,” says Utama. “Hopefully one day students can get full/partial scholarships to participate in esports. For a lot of collegiate bodies, I think this will be the biggest change expected in the next few years.”

An esports player on St. Mary's esports team plays a game.

further increase

As collegiate esports leagues move forward with the creation of full-on arenas, it seems that the future of the industry is backed by the universities themselves. But we can expect to see more investments in terms of recruitment, financing and further consolidation of the space as a whole, according to Tencent.

“For scholastic (high school) and collegiate esports, I expect to see more active and assertive parents when it comes to high school to college esports recruitment pipelines,” Tenient said. “As for growth, I think we’ll see more LAN events on college campuses, more universities investing in their own esports programs, and integration of college leagues.”

Collegiate esports may fall under the broader industry umbrella of esports, but it is clear that the college space has its own strong presence, with ever-increasing support behind it.

Universities have begun to offer serious support to esports programs that initially began as student-run clubs. Investment in these programs is reflected in things like scholarships that help provide educational opportunities for student athletes, as well as larger organizations that help support the industry, such as NACE and Tespa, an organization that acts as a network for students. works in.

But one last note from Tencent reminds us that collegiate esports is also growing in a much narrower circle: with college leagues and competitions making the most of the people.

“When we think of esports, we can only think of the players and the competition, and the players and the competition needed to support such as marketing and brand managers, event coordinators, team managers, broadcasting and production teams, etc. Can’t consider all roles.” Tenient said. “When we expand our circle within esports, I think it attracts more talent and generally more people who would otherwise not be part of esports (players included).”




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