Robert Morris University announced earlier this month that it’s offering a gaming scholarship to students who play League of Legends, taking a bold and sure-to-be criticized step toward legitimizing eSports. The scholarship would pay for up to 50 percent of a qualifying student’s tuition and 50 percent of their room and board, which amounts to what could be $19,000 for each student in the program this fall. The program is looking for experienced League of Legends High School Starleague competitors, which includes more than 750 eSports programs from schools in the U.S. and Canada. Robert Morris University’s League of Legends squad will be joining the Collegiate Star League, which comprises 103 educational institutions, including Harvard, Arizona State and George Washington University.
The university will also be hiring a coach for the team. Riot Games’ League of Legends earned $624 million in revenue in 2013, and the game boasts more than 27 million daily players. News of a video gaming scholarship is surely music to the ears of the more than 1,000 players participating in this year’s Major League Gaming Championships in Anaheim, California, which ends today.
The Miami League of Legends team was founded by current head analyst Joshua Melink in 2012 as a mixed group of casual and competitive players looking to compete in the Collegiate Star League’s inaugural League of Legends season. The first season of CSL was a successful campaign with the team finishing with a 6-3 record before dropping out in the first round of playoffs. The 2015-2016 campaign brought about a split season for CSL, spanning across both fall and spring semesters. After a tough 4-3 record in the fall, the team turned it around in the spring to pick up Miami’s first undefeated season, finishing with a record of 6-0, as well as taking Miami’s first playoff win in the round of 64 before falling in the round of 32. This year, the team has gone through a slew of changes, most importantly being supported as a Varsity team by the university and adding coaches to facilitate improvement to keep up with the ever-growing e-Sports landscape.
Upper Iowa to launch varsity esports program
Upper Iowa University is launching a varsity esports program with the first Peacock teams to compete during the 2018-19 academic year. Despite video game and esports mainstream popularity, institutions have just recently jumped on board with the thought of esports as a viable intercollegiate program. The Upper Iowa esports team will be made up of women and men and will feature teams to compete against other institutions in League of Legends and Overwatch. The Peacocks will seek to participate in both the Collegiate Star League and the College League of Legends Tournament.
Upper Iowa will offer scholarships to incoming esport student-athletes. Esports is the eighth program added to the Peacock Athletics Department roster since the university’s move up to NCAA Division II prior to the 2005-06 academic year. Upper Iowa reinstated the first five programs, which include women’s lacrosse, women’s indoor and outdoor track and field, women’s cross country and women’s tennis, between 2007 and 2017. Both women’s and men’s bowling were added in January 2018 with competition slated to begin in 2018-19.