eSports Business Grows on College Campuses

What if the next “big man on campus” isn’t such a big person after all?

The New York Times reports that “Loc Tran is a big man on campus at San Jose State University in Northern California.”

However, “Mr. Tran is not a star on the football team, or a leader in student government. He is a top player on the school’s competitive video game team, helping San Jose State claw its way to victory in June over California State University, Fullerton, in a tournament watched online by nearly 90,000 people. When the new school year started this fall, classmates’ heads swiveled toward him when professors said his name during roll call.”

Indeed, the growth of competitive eSports on campus continues to amaze — outpacing even men’s college basketball in terms of sheer numbers. The piece continues: “Video game competitions, also known as e-sports, have taken off on campuses across the country, including Harvard and Florida State University. More than 10,000 students now play in the biggest college league, 4,400 more than last year and 4,600 more than the number of men who play on Division I college basketball teams.”

There is even a college league: “The college scene is largely organized around the Collegiate StarLeague, which started at Princeton in 2009 and is the biggest college league. The organization is now active at 450 schools, up from 260 last year, according to Duran Parsi, the head of the league. Many of those players also participate in matches organized by another collegiate league, IvyLoL.”

The Daily Dot outlines some of the history: “In 2009, some students at Princeton challenged rivals at MIT to a match of StarCraft. At the same time, a University of California San Diego student named Duran Parsi formed his own team. The two groups, who knew each other through StarCraft community website Team Liquid, decided to form a single competition, organizing matches in Google docs and Excel spreadsheets, and the Collegiate StarLeague (CSL) was born.”

“They weren’t the only ones looking to expand the collegiate footprint of esports. About a year later, a pair of brothers at the University of Texas in Austin created a club to promote esports competition at their school, called the Texas Esports Association. And in in the Summer of 2011, a simple post on the official League of Legends spurred the formation of IvyLoL, a competitive college association for the biggest esport in the world.”

The piece continues: “Those groups laid the groundwork for what’s become a rapidly growing and maturing infrastructure for competitive collegiate gaming. The Collegiate Star League featured 550 teams and over 5,600 players last season, and introduced their third game this year, adding Dota 2 to their StarCraft 2 and League of Legends competitions. TeSPA took the Texas out of its name, calling itself the eSports Association so it could focus on broader national goals. It now encompasses 700 schools and organizes college events across the nation, handing out thousands in scholarships as prizes. In 2012, TeSPA partnered with IvyLoL for Lone Star Clash 2, the first live final for a college esports tournament.”

 

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