The future of competitive gaming coming to the university
When most people think of sports teams at Delaware they think of football, field hockey and basketball.
One thing people do not think of is esports. Esports has become a growing sport among younger generations and is on the rise. Most notably, over the summer, an American teen won $3 million competing in the Fortnite World Cup.
In spring 2020, the university will bring esports to Perkins Student Center in a new Esports Arena.
The development of an esports team was quiet and something few knew about at first. However, the Director of University Student Centers, Tony Doody, expressed just how much starting an esports team on campus would mean to many enrolled students.
“The [gaming] clubs are very active,” Doody said. “There are two clubs in particular, the video gaming tournament club and the casual gaming club, which combined have over 900 members who have an interest in gaming.”
Doody mentioned how both teams were looking for the opportunity to represent the university. The clubs were also looking for a space as well as resources to help them compete. The timing of meeting with Doody was just right for the clubs.
“As it turns out at the same time a colleague from our academics was also exploring [esports] as a potential career development piece,” Doody said. “We brought all this together and did lots of research on peer institutions and many of them to date have esports.”
One thing that many have wondered on campus is what the esports team will be labeled. Would it be seen as a varsity team under the athletic department? A team similar to that of a collegiate club team? Or would it be something of its own thing? According to Doody, the team will be considered a varsity sport, however, it will not be under the direction of the athletics department.
The main reasoning for this was based on the NCAA’s policy prohibiting college athletes from making money off their likeness. In other words, student athletes cannot make money off of the sport they compete in.
The esports program did find a way to work around this.
“The NCAA is reluctant to support [esports] because it can be monetized and students who make money under the brand of the University of Delaware would not be allowed in the NCAA structure,” Doody said.
Recently, the NCAA passed a regulation allowing athletes to benefit from their likeness.
Instead, the university was approached by the Electronic Gaming Federation to be a member of its organization. The only thing the university would have to do would be to get a facility.
Now with the Esports Arena in Perkins Student Center coming closer to completion, the university is looking to have the facility not only benefit its athletes, but all students and faculty on campus.
“The first impact will be developing a community and a culture,” Doody said. “We know that students are already playing by themselves and we really want to pull them out and bring them to a community where they are developing relationships.”
The esports team will have athletes competing in four games including Rocket League, League of Legends, Hearthstone and Overwatch. Each team will consist of double the amount of competitors required to play the game in order to ensure that each team is complete, according to Doody.
The team recently held tryouts and individuals who made the team will be notified.
When it comes to scholarships, currently the esports team will not be giving out scholarships, according to Doody. However, he did mention that it is something that is being looked at in depth.
Overall, the inclusion of esports at the university looks to be a way for the university to get ahead of the curve and jump on a trend that is increasing around the nation’s colleges. There are currently more than 125 colleges that have esports teams as of February 2019. As technology continues to grow, esports will also continue to do so, making the creation of an esports team a smart move for the university.