In the last 5 years, eSports has essentially gone from nothing to one of the biggest phenomenons to take the world by storm. One of the most notable happenings from the acceptance of eSports, is the influence they have had on college and student populations. But it makes sense right? Most games are 18-30 males. Well, that happens to fit a college demographic almost down to the T. In last year or so, a handful of colleges have started offering scholarships to play on their varsity eSports programs, with many more colleges closely following suite. Hopefully, I would like to increase this list, but with collegiate eSports still in its infancy I have selected the top 3 universities for collegiate eSports
1. Robert Morris University
Located in downtown Chicago, Ill, RMU was the first university to offer a varsity program and scholarships. In their first year in existence, they were able to place 2nd in uLoL’s collegiate championships, while taking first in their division. They started their program with League of Legends, but have since expanded to include Counter-Strike, Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm and Dota 2. One of the reasons why I have ranked RMU so high is because there eSports program is also part of their athletics. They also have a wicked practice arena dedicated to their eSports teams.
2. University of British Columbia
So they may not have a scholarship eSports program, but they have one of the most robust student organizations I have ever seen. They have been invited to compete in multiple tournaments hosted in Asia, hosted by Afreeca TV. They may not offer scholarships, but they school is behind them 100%. They also have one of the most involved club advisors, Carmen Lam.
3. University of California - Irvine
UCI, just announced in the fall of 2016 the opening of their state-of-the-art student eSports Arena. Fully decked out with custom built iBuyPower computers, a viewing area and broadcasting center. All in the heart of UCI campus and student area. They also offer eSport scholarships which is the first state university to offer such scholarships, however it is not affiliated with their school’s athletics but when you are getting your school pay for to play video games, does it really matter? UCI has not had enough time to establish themselves as a competitive organization, but but I have high hopes for them as they continue to grow their program
I will also make a note about the recent announcement from the Big 10 conference and their involvement in the collegiate eSports, they have only announced their participation in League of Legends, but they have also announced that their finals will exclusively be shown on the Big 10 cable network, which is a huge step for eSports as a whole.