eSports, or electronic sports, is just a fancy and inclusive name for competitive video gaming. Although it’s been around as long as video games have, eSports didn’t take off until the ’90s, when leagues and tournaments exploded onto the scene. eSports is really just an umbrella term; there are a limitless variety of games to play and tournaments to attend, making this activity accessible to everyone.
Due to eSports growing audience and players across the world, many US colleges and universities have created eSports facilities with complementing curriculum to promote the gaming industry as a collegiate sport. Some of the programs recruit for players, allowing students to directly apply to the college as an eSports student. Others do not recruit but rather allow students to try out and join teams after they are accepted to the university for a more traditional major.
Here are the top 5 best esports programs in the states
Maryville University of St Louis
Maryville created their eSports program in 2015 and was the biggest name in college eSports after winning the 2016 League of Legends championship with a 40-0 record. They won the same championship again in 2017, and a third time this year. Thus, it comes as no surprise that they focus on League of Legends. This university maintains a state-of-the-art practice facility with the best internet possible for low ping and high FPS (frames-per-second). Along with high-speed computers, the facility also comes with top-of-the-line headsets and gaming chairs for maximum comfort and complete concentration. Maryville offers scholarships up to $2,000.
Miami University (ohio)
Miami University in Ohio is a D-1 athletics university. The school started offering eSports scholarships in 2016, and in 2017, their varsity Overwatch team earned first place in the NACE Overwatch Tournament. On the first floor of King Library is the arena built for the eSports program. This arena features 16 gaming stations, with each gaming computer possessing high-end graphics cards and monitors. Along with the computers are several large screen TVs that students can use to review past games and watch live games. Miami University also offers eSports summer camps where people can train like varsity team players and compete in tournaments.
University of California at Irvine
UC Irvine in California became the very first public university to create a varsity eSports team. They focus mostly on Overwatch and League of Legends, and award a $5,610 scholarship to League of Legends players, and a $2,500 scholarship to Overwatch players. According to campus statistics, around 72% of UC Irvine students play video games. UC Irvine has one of the US’s most extensive eSports facilities, which houses over 70 gaming computers and a large arena for games and competitions. Each computer and monitor set comes with a high-quality keyboard, mouse and headset. There is also a Console and Community Corner for players to play other console games.
Robert Morris University (Illinois)
This university operates in the heart of Chicago and created the idea of varsity eSports programs, and offered the first eSports scholarships to prospective members of the school’s League of Legends team back in 2014. The team competes in games such as League of Legends, Overwatch, CS: GO, and DOTA 2. They have dedicated coaches for these teams and have several sponsorships that provide the players with some of the best facilities in the nation. Some sponsors include iBuyPower, ASUS, Cooler Master, and DXRacer, which produce high quality gaming PCs, keyboards, mice, and gaming chairs. RMU players and students have access to over 20 gaming computers in their arena.
Illinois Wesleyan University
This university is a private liberal arts school and is relatively new to eSports. The program only began competing and giving scholarships to recruited players in the fall of 2018. Illinois Wesleyan University focuses mostly on League of Legends, which makes logical sense given that League is the most popular MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) game in the world. IWU has also constructed an eSports facility in the Hansen Student Center to give their varsity program a strong start. The arena contains 17 Alienware computers and monitors along with custom Vertagear chairs. Twelve of these computers can be used by all students when not being used for practice; the other five are exclusively for team members. Outside the arena is a 55-inch screen where other students can watch the live stream of IWU’s competitions.