What is esports?
Esports, in short, is competitive video gaming. While this description is correct, it doesn’t fully capture what makes the games played as esports different from the average video game. An esports title is a competitive multiplayer game where individuals or teams compete against each other. These games span a variety of genres including strategy games, shooters, fighters, and traditional sports simulations. The professional esports scene has exploded in the last decade with the top players receiving millions in prize money and sponsorships, and viewership of major tournaments surpassing that of championships in the big four professional sports leagues.
Since the founding of the first varsity program in 2015, esports has become one of the most exciting and fastest-growing intercollegiate sports. While not as physically demanding as traditional athletics, esports is a legitimate competition where the victor is determined through skill, teamwork, communication, and good old-fashioned hard work.
Esports at Drury
Esports is a varsity sport at Drury – it is organized under the athletic department and student athletes receive scholarships and mentoring from a full-time coach. The first Panther esports athletes will compete in the game “League of Legends” starting in the fall of 2019, with plans to expand into other titles such as “Overwatch” and “Rocket League.”
We are building an elite program designed to be competitive from day one while also preparing students for a potential career in esports. Team members will be required to attend training sessions that will improve their in-game ability as well as their overall health and fitness. In return, they will have access to a dedicated training facility made for the esports program, with high-end gaming hardware and spaces designed to maximize efficiency in practice and consistency in performance.
In addition to fielding teams in some of the most popular esports titles, we will have a student-run media team. This will be a multidisciplinary group tasked with broadcasting our matches, managing our social media accounts, and creating a variety of content to support the program. If you are interested in a professional career in esports (or media production in general), being part of our media team will provide you with opportunities to expand your skills and build a portfolio of quality work.
What does it take to make the team?
While skill is an important factor when we evaluate potential Panther esports athletes, the key traits we look for are a self-sustaining drive to improve and the ability to give and receive constructive criticism. Skill brings with it a shot at greatness, but it cannot be fully achieved without teamwork and communication.
Academics are also a major factor. Joining the esports program makes you a student-athlete just like with a traditional sport, and as the coach I put a lot of emphasis on the first word in that term. At a minimum, our players must remain in good academic standing to be eligible for competition; however, I am not satisfied with the minimum and neither should you. Every member of our program is expected to put in the hard work needed to be successful, and that work starts in the classroom.
With all of that being said, we are looking primarily at players who are Diamond 4 or above to be starters on our League of Legends team. If you think you have the qualities we are looking for but NOT the rank in solo-que, we would still love to hear from you! We will be fielding a 6 to 7 man starting roster and potentially a full second team. There are opportunities for you to learn and grow regardless of your current skill level. We are committed to helping you reach your full potential – skill can be taught, rank can be earned, but the right mindset is intangible.