Becker College Launches Varsity Esports Program
Published on: June 18, 2018
This fall, Becker College students will be able to try out for a new varsity sport — competitive video gaming, or esports. League of Legends, one of the most popular video games of all-time, will be the college’s inaugural title in its new varsity esports program. Becker, internationally ranked for its game design major, is the first college in Massachusetts to offer scholarships to varsity esports student-athletes.
Building on the success and growth of the College’s esports club, the program’s goal is to establish Becker as a championship-driven esports powerhouse. Student-athletes will 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. Scholarships of up to $5,000 per year will be awarded to select student-athletes based on ability, academics, communication skills and playing position.
“Collegiate esports is happening, and it makes all the sense in the world for Becker, already a pioneer in game design, to be leading the way in Massachusetts,” said Nancy P. Crimmin, Ed.D., president of Becker College. “With a campus community that is passionate about games, adding esports is a natural fit for us.”
With more than 100 million players a month, Riot’s League of Legends (LoL) is the most popular video game in the world. In 2017, the LoL World Championship was the most watched program on Amazon’s Twitch, with 49.5 million hours.
“Our esports varsity program will mirror many traditional varsity sports rules and regulations, complete with tryouts, uniforms, practice schedules and academic achievement standards,” said Timothy Loew, Becker’s varsity esports general manager and executive director of the Massachusetts Digital Games Institute (MassDiGI). “Given the popularity of our esports club, I fully expect to be adding more varsity teams in games like Hearthstone and Overwatch over the next academic year.”
The esports audience is expected to grow to 557 million by 2021, according to Newzoo. Professional teams like the Boston Celtics are fielding squads in the new NBA 2K League, and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft recently spent $20 million to buy Boston Uprising, a team in Blizzard’s Overwatch League.
More than 80 U.S. colleges and universities have esports varsity teams and many members of athletic conferences like the PAC 12, Big Ten and Ivy League support esports on campus.
“Becker’s League of Legends club team just had a solid year, and proved to be fierce competitors,” said William Collis, founder of Genji Esports and Team Genji, currently one of the top three Hearthstone teams worldwide. “They will definitely be a force to be reckoned with at the varsity level. Who knows? Soon we may even see a Becker alum playing for us.”