Why Collegiate Esports is a Viable Option and How to Get Started

collegiate learning scholastic esports Apr 11, 2022
Get Started With College Esports

Esports, or competitive gaming, has been around since the 70s. The first-ever tournament was held at Stanford University where students across the campus were invited to battle each other in a game of Spacewar. As time went on, technology became more accessible and video games became more widespread.

The 1990s became the first decade where companies started to seriously find and fund teams that aim to play at a competitive level. The rise of online games and streaming platforms also brought more attention to the gaming industry. Onlookers from all over the world are now able to watch tournaments live and hone their skills at home in the hopes of becoming the next professional player. Outside of pro leagues, there are also different competitions amateurs and rising stars can enter to garner more attention and support for their skills.

Today’s esport landscape at the collegiate level

With esports rising in popularity, many colleges have started to invest in creating their own teams and clubs that cater to it. Schools like Northwestern Michigan College and Cleary University are great examples of institutions forming successful rosters. They have their different specialties with the former participating in Rocket League and Overwatch while the latter performing well in League of Legends.

Colleges across the country are using esports as a way to align their goals with prospective students. Because video games are so popular among the current generation, having a well-performing roster is akin to having a Division I sports team. Members of these organizations are also able to exemplify important qualities like leadership, communication, creativity, and problem-solving skills. More colleges should create esports teams within their institutions as a creative way to impart good values and bring positive attention to their schools.

How you can join a collegiate team

  • Be a well-rounded student: First and foremost, you should be a well-rounded student for colleges to accept you. This includes having a balance of good grades and exceptional participation in extracurricular activities. This will show college boards that you are not only academically gifted but that you are also willing to put your knowledge into action. It is also important for you to be able to take care of yourself both physically and mentally. Schools may look at these factors when deciding to offer your admittance into their curriculums, which is key to being able to try out for a different esports team.
  • Know what games are being played: The next thing to consider once you're in is to find a team to join is what games are currently being played by different colleges. This will help you know which team you are most suited to join based on which games you already have experience with. The Loadout reports that games like CS: GO, League of Legends, Dota 2, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, and Rainbow Six Siege are some of the most popular ones played at tournaments today. So if you play these regularly, chances are that you'll easily find a team that you can work with. If they specialize in a game you are not familiar with, consider first whether or not you are willing to learn and if the skills you already have will translate well.
  • Get enough practice: If you are aiming to be put on a gaming team's roster, it is important that you are practicing and refining your skills. Maryville University explains how joining collegiate esports requires a lot of knowledge and refinement. You can watch professional plays to understand why their executions are effective, and apply them to your own games. Establishing yourself as a strong player worth taking note of will help you garner the attention of different teams and organizations you are planning on joining. This will also ensure that your skills are up to par during tournaments and competitions.
  • Know when tryouts are happening: Maryville University also highlights that there are typically two different kinds of teams that you can join⁠— varsity and community teams. The former is the official group recognized by the school to represent them at different leagues and tournaments while the former is a student-formed organization that aims to bring together like-minded people while upholding the name and values of the college. Varsity teams will usually hold their try-outs before the school year starts to give themselves ample time to practice. Community teams, on the other hand, may let people join during the start of semesters or anytime throughout the school year. Be sure to take note of the application period to make sure that you will get a chance to show off your expertise.
  • Meet the requirements for tournaments: Lastly, it is important to be sure that you meet the requirements for different tournaments. Each game may have its own demands such as a minimum rank or age. For example, the Valorant Champions Tour’s rules state that players must be at least 16 years old and be placed in at least Diamond 1 to enter the North American stage. While most amateur competitions are more relaxed, such as the League of Legends Championship Series Proving Grounds, it is still important to know the roster requirements to ensure that if you are selected, you can be of use to your team.

For further insights, watch these videos of livestreams where NASEF interviews collegiate esports program directors and coaches for their input. 

Esports teams are a great way of fostering different skills amongst students. Schools can not only gain favor amongst prospective applicants but they will also churn out well-rounded individuals in the process.


Article submitted by K. Heilman, Outreach Coordinator at Maryville University for the exclusive use of

Maryville's esports program is growing! Read this news story about their new 3,000-seat esports arena.


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