Competitive gaming part of university’s athletics program

Global Business

Parents who’ve long lectured kids about wasting time playing video games may need to reconsider. That’s because one American university is now offering scholarship money to the best of the best.

It’s the latest evidence of a global explosion of so-called e-sports. CCTV’s Roza Kazan explains.
Follow Roza Kazan on Twitter @rozakazancctv

Competitive gaming part of university\'s athletics program

Parents who've long lectured kids about wasting time playing video games may need to reconsider. That's because one American university is now offering scholarship money to the best of the best. It's the latest evidence of a global explosion of so-called e-sports. CCTV's Roza Kazan explains.

It’s not your average video gaming lounge. It is an e-sports arena at the first university in the United States to make competitive gaming part of its official athletics program and offer hefty scholarships to the best players.

It’s the brainchild of the Associate Athletic Director at Robert Morris University in Chicago, Kurt Melcher, himself a former video-gamer.

“That’s what this age bracket is doing, a large number of them, why not provide that opportunity for them to come in and do what they do well at the university,” Kurt Melcher, Associate Athletic Director at Robert Morris University said.

The game is “League of Legends 2.” Five player teams try to wipe each other out in about 40 minutes pr game.

Action-packed with sorcerers, assassins and marksmen, it’s become the king of video gaming as a spectator sport, complete with sold-out stadiums and celebrity gamers.

“There is a tremendous viewer base, people want to watch these players play the game, people have massive crushes or huge respect for teams and they want to see the best in the world play in that position,” Jason Greenglass, Assistant Coach for E-Sports at Robert Morris University said.

Derek Shao, a 20-year-old student from Canada, describes himself as a lifelong gamer.

A skilled League of Legends player, he received the top scholarship offer- to pay half his tuition and room and board. That’s worth about $19,000 a year and was enough incentive to make the move to Chicago.

Competitive video gaming, says Derek, is a legitimate sport.

“It requires a lot of physical finesse, too – a lot of decision-making – mental acuity. It’s so big that people won’t be able to ignore it no matter what – call it a game, call it a sport – it’s there,” Shao said.

He’s also happy with the top-of-the-line arena, decked out with extra-comfy chairs, and self-cooling computers.

The University spent about $100,000 on this state-of the-art facility. But the price tag would have been a lot higher if it wasn’t for the help of the official sponsors of this newly created sports program.

That’s because e-sports has become big business.

Last year, League of Legends’ publisher, Riot Games, made an estimated $600 million from in-game purchases and tournament tickets and secured Coca-Cola as the championship’s top backer.

It’s only time, experts say, before more schools add e-sports to their programs and give more parents hope that a video-game obsession just might pay for their kid’s college education.


Chris Vollmer on the potential of video gaming

CCTV America’s Michelle Makori spoke with Chris Vollmer about the growth of e-sports. Vollmer is global managing director of digital services at Strategy& and the leader of Strategy&’s global Media and Entertainment practice.

Chris Vollmer on the potential of video gaming

CCTV America’s Michelle Makori spoke with Chris Vollmer about the growth of e-sports. Vollmer is global managing director of digital services at Strategy& and the leader of Strategy&’s global Media and Entertainment practice.