Becker Varsity Esports adds Overwatch team

Becker Varsity Esports adds Overwatch team

Published on: January 15, 2019

Members of the Becker College Varsity Esports Overwatch team

Members of the Becker College Varsity Esports Overwatch team pose for a photo in the Colleen C. Barrett Center on Becker College’s Worcester campus.

This semester Becker College students will be able to cheer for a new varsity esports team — Overwatch.

Overwatch, published by Blizzard Entertainment, is an enormously popular online, team-based game where heroes do battle in a world of conflict. Becker’s team will kick-off its competitive schedule by playing in the TESPA Overwatch Collegiate Championship: Varsity League beginning later this month.

“Becker is excited to add Overwatch to our varsity esports program,” said Timothy Loew, Becker’s varsity esports program general manager and executive director of the Massachusetts Digital Games Institute (MassDiGI). “Over the last year the club Overwatch teams have steadily improved to the point where it makes sense to level up.”

Overwatch is now the third game supported at the varsity level by Becker. League of Legends was the college’s inaugural title in its varsity esports program when it launched in the summer of 2018. Then, this past fall, Becker took advantage of a special opportunity to build a SMITE team.

Becker, internationally ranked for its game design major, is the first college in Massachusetts to award scholarships to varsity esports student-athletes and the first in the nation to offer a bachelor of science in esports management degree.

Building on the success and growth of the College’s gaming tournaments and esports club, the varsity program’s goal is to establish Becker as a championship-driven esports powerhouse across multiple titles. Players have access to state-of-the-art equipment and facilities, as well as experienced staff and online training through Boston-based Gamer Sensei, the world’s top source for esports coaching.

“Our goal is to make Becker a destination for students with a passion for play,” said Loew. “We’re building a true esports community here, not simply a team, club or a program.”

Released by Blizzard in 2016, Overwatch has exploded in popularity due to the creation of the Overwatch League (OWL) which features professional esports teams based in cities around the world including the Boston Uprising, a team bought by New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft for $20 million in 2017. This past summer, nearly 11 million viewers watched the first Overwatch League Finals, held in front of a sell-out crowd at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY. According to Blizzard, over 40 million people a month now play Overwatch.

“The college’s varsity esports program reflects traditional varsity sports in many ways including regular practices, scrimmages, uniforms and academic achievement standards,” said Donald Desrochers, Becker’s varsity esports program coordinator, program director for interactive media design studios and camps and graphic design instructor. “Given the positive outcomes of our esports efforts so far, we expect really good results from our Overwatch players, too.”

Market researcher Newzoo predicts a quarter of the world’s population will be “aware” of esports by 2021 and financial services company Goldman Sachs projects annual esports revenue to grow to $2.96 billion by 2022.

More than 100 U.S. colleges and universities have esports varsity teams and many members of athletic conferences like the PAC 12, Big Ten, Metro Atlantic and Ivy League support esports on campus