If you have any lingering doubts about video game leagues and championships being taken seriously, it may be time to open your mind. Two U.S. colleges are now offering real, actual scholarships for esports athletes that play the video game League of Legends in organized competitions.
The first was Robert Morris University in Chicago, which announced its esports program back in June of '14. The school's teams began with League of Legends but now play Dota 2 and Hearthstone as well. RMU recently opened the first varsity esports facility in North America.
Now another school has stepped up to the plate. The University of Pikeville in Kentucky has announced the formation of its own esports program, which it expects to launch with the Fall 2015 semester. Pikeville will be part of the Collegiate Star League, starting off with four League of Legends teams — including one for freshmen only — but CSL also organizes competitions for StarCraft II and Dota 2, so one suspects Pikeville may eventually add those titles to its roster.
So what exactly do esports athletes do, besides play video games?
Apparently, they train in much the same way that physical athletes do. Like other sports, they have a head coach — in this case, Eric VanHoose, a Pikeville graduate — and they'll spend time practicing their skills and studying their competitors' tactics.
eSports scholarship recipients at the University of Pikeville will be treated just like other athletes, and are expected to maintain a high GPA to remain in the program.
Is it only a matter of time before esports programs are available at major schools across the nation?