Lourdes University has expanded its collegiate program to include eSports. The Gray Wolves will be the first in the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference to offer an eSports scholarship program. Cory Cahill, assistant men’s and women’s volleyball coach, is directing the eSports program, as his success in this emerging collegiate sport helped pay for his college education. Lourdes University is currently recruiting a part-time coach who will seek talented video gamers who have competed nationally and internationally in the high school and/or collegiate arena.
In its inaugural competitive season this fall, the university plans to field three teams with possible alternates. As a Catholic and Franciscan University, Lourdes eSports student-athletes will focus on competitive video gaming without participating in any video gaming programs that feature first-person shooting. Lourdes President Dr. Gawelek emphasizes that this type of video gaming does not add any specific skill that is applicable to an individual’s academic studies.
The Lourdes University eSports Gray Wolves teams will play in the new Gaming Arena located in the rec center on campus, and Non-student athletes will enjoy a new Gaming Room designed for recreational gamers and those affiliated with the university’s Gaming Society student organization.
Blizzard’s Dean of Esports on What’s Next for College Gaming
Adam Rosen and his twin brother Tyler are on the front lines of the battle to bring esports to the masses on campus. The two brothers co-founded and serve as co-presidents of Texas Esports Association and are both Project Managers at Blizzard, working on bringing collegiate esports to campuses across the country – a task made considerably easier by the explosive growth of the peerless Overwatch, which now boasts over 25 million players worldwide.
Even if you’re not a fan of esports, there’s a hook there. Esports is being picked up with different levels of enthusiasm at universities across the country. So it’s not a coincidence that some of the most involved schools, such as UC Irvine and Arizona State University, are schools who have teams that won championships. In esports, there is a hook for universities in that people who are participating right now are very technical – 70% of the players in the round of 64 for Heroes of the Dorm are STEM majors. One major difference is that, in esports, the publisher owns the IP to games, and has much more control.
So in many ways, the market for collegiate esports is totally unprecedented. Many of the strong schools in esports aren’t always powerhouses in traditional sports.