SBU’s new varsity “Electronic Sports” program is one of about 15 like it in the country.
“I really think that SBU will be a very competitive team at the eSports level,” Student Jared Jensen said.
Jensen, Michael Harris, Alex Cotter, Jacob McCammon, and Joseph Reyes are just some of the students who are hoping to join Southwest Baptist University’s first ever varsity competitive gaming program. The new program comes at a time when the eSports scene is exploding with popularity.
“A little perspective, the world championships of the League of Legends Finals this past year had about 27 million viewers online live and they actually sold out the Mercedes Benz arena in three minutes. That’s the large arena in Berlin,” eSports Head Coach Chris Allison said.
However, it’s not only the gaming that’s exciting, but also the way the program is bringing students together.
“I played just for fun by myself, but it’s a lot more fun getting to play with other people,” McCammon said.
“Gaming is an opportunity to create community, whether they’re online talking to each other over their headsets or whether their sitting next to each other playing competitively,” Director of Student Activities Nathan Penland said.
“We wanted to figure out a way to create community and bring them out into a public space, so that they could actually get to know each other,” Allison said.
Last year, the school offered a pilot intramural program and had nearly 250 players. That’s why leaders expect the new varsity program to be popular among student gamers.
Those intramural will still be offered to gamers of any experience level, but the varsity team will be the best of the best.
“Collegiate video gaming is just as competitive as any other athletic program,” Reyes said.
“We will be competing at a much higher level than we competed at the club level before, we are in the process of recruiting new players and have scholarships available to those recruits,” Allison said.
SBU will host open tryouts during the second week of the fall semester. They’re not only looking for good players but also those who reflect the values of the university.