Growing up, we used to be told that playing video games was a waste of time, that we needed to concentrate on homework, to go outside and play. Well, how wrong our parents were. Esports has now become one of the fastest-growing professions in the world with some top players earning in the millions.
One aspect that has definitely helped to turn the tide when it comes to making esports a valid profession is the growing number of esports scholarships offered by colleges. While sports scholarships for things like football and cheerleading have long been the norm at many US colleges, esports is now beginning to join these ranks. There are a number of esports colleges that now offer fully-funded places for students to study there and play as a member of their varsity esports teams.
Esports Scholarships: How Popular Are They?
Esports, on the whole, has been growing year on year – and shows no signs of slowing down. The esports market is expected to generate a revenue of $1.5 billion in 2019 alone – it’s big business. To put it into perspective, the NFL generated £14 billion last year, and they’ve been around for almost 100 years. These big bucks have been attracting news networks to talk about the “rise of esports” and the new fascination by the non-gaming world around how this industry has sky-rocketed.
The National Association of Collegiate eSports is another example of just how rapidly the industry is growing, especially at the college level. When they founded back in 2016, there were just seven colleges offering esports programs. Now, they have over 130 colleges as members, with others still offering esports programs and scholarships outside of the association.
Who Gets Esports Scholarships?
When eSports began its meteoric rise to the top, many players would have to make the choice between going pro or going to college. Most eSports players are around high-school age which can make this a tricky choice to make. Now, thanks to the scholarships and courses being offered across the globe, teenagers don’t have to sacrifice one for the other.
Just like any other sports-based scholarship, you need academic qualifications alongside your esports achievements. But, if you manage to combine academic results with gaming results, you’re on to a winner. A lot of colleges still have a fairly small number of scholarships available that range from partial to full, so it’s worth spending some time to find out what colleges offer esports scholarships.
College Esports Teams and Games
There are so many esports games out there now, so which are colleges actually building teams and offering scholarships in? This all depends on the college and does vary from school to school. But, the following games are the most popular choice for college esports teams according to the NACE:
- League of Legends
- CS: GO
- Rainbow Six: Seige
- Smite, Battleground of the Gods
- Paladins, Champions of the Realm
- Rocket League
- Super Smash Bros
- NBA 2k
- Apex Legends
College Esports Championship
Created by sports heavyweight ESPN, the College Esports Championship (CEC) has become one of the most popular college tournaments in esports. The inaugural 2019 event saw teams compete across five games; Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition, Overwatch, and Starcraft II.
Hundreds of schools from across North America competed against each other for their chance to win their own scholarships, rather than cash in hand like many other tournaments. But, just like other tournaments, the players are still playing at a professional level with all the benefits and drawbacks that come with that.
Unfortunately for these young players, there isn’t the same kind of support system in place at most schools as there is for traditional sports teams. Most esports teams fall under the same banner as athletics teams, despite being incredibly different areas. The injuries and issues experienced by esports players are completely different from those who play football, for example. Until these kinds of issues are addressed, college esports will remain behind traditional sports.