MINNEAPOLIS- The University of Minnesota has recently begun giving out new sports scholarships, eSports scholarships.
It should be noted that eSports are separate from the gaming industry, as eSports defines just the formalized competitive events between gamers.
The University of Minnesota already possesses an eSports club, whose stated goal according to their group page, is to “develop collegiate eSports teams at the University of Minnesota to compete in local and national tournaments.”
While the club is only two years old, it already possesses 300 members. While the club states that it allows people to play many different games, the team favors an online multiplayer game called League of Legends. The goal of the game is similar to capture the flag, in that one team is supposed to destroy the other team’s nexus. There are different classes of characters, each with different attributes which help the team complete its goal of destroying the other team’s nexus. This is where the scholarship comes in.
This past January, the Big Ten Network inaugurated its first ever Big Ten League of Legends championship tournament. The tournament is funded by both the Big Ten Network and League of Legends producer and eSports event organizing company, Riot Games. The competing schools include Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Northwestern, Ohio State, Purdue, Rutgers, and Wisconsin. Nebraska and Penn State did not send teams. The tournament was organized as a best-of-three round robin with the teams split into an East and West division. The top four teams in each division were then ranked in a single elimination bracket, with East-West playing each other in the championship. Maryland swept Illinois in the finals, winning the championship.
The University of Minnesota sent a team of six players and two managers to the tournament. Each of the players received $5,000 in scholarship money, while the two managers received $2,500 each. Many colleges and universities across the country have invested significant amounts of money in eSports. For example, the University of Utah has also started giving out partial scholarships. The University of California Irvine invested $250,000 in an eSport arena.
University of Minnesota eSports club President Adam Thao, told WCCO, “The reason I love eSports is because you don’t have to be a beast of nature like LeBron James in basketball… With League of Legends, all you have to do is be able to, like, play the game on a computer…”