eSports are coming to 14 universities belonging to the Big Ten conference are set to join a League of Legends tournament set up specifically for colleges.
Riot Games, the developers of LoL, who are collaborating with the Big Ten Network, have confirmed that they will fund scholarships worth $35,000, spreading the scholars out between each university program equally.
Those involved in eSports at university are hopeful of developing their gaming into proper varsity like programmes similar to those of traditional sports, hiring coaches and having proper training regimes set in place.
As it stands, collegiate eSports lacks a central governing body such as the NCAA. Without such a body there is a large hindrance when it comes to centralising and legitimising competitions, which, at the moment, are organised on a college to college basis, with no wider links between different games.
The popular games amongst college students appear to be Rocket League, Overwatch and LoL, all of which control their own leagues and tournaments, however, until an NCAA equivalent is set up for eSports the entire scene will likely struggle to develop evenly.
The National Association of Collegiate eSports are keen to try and organise official competitions between universities and could well serve as the central body they are after, however, as it stands, most individual colleges continue to set up tournaments by simply organising them themselves between rival universities.
Can eSports become a serious college sport?
The announcement of Rio Games and the Big Ten’s partnership is huge news for the collegiate community, however, as they entire scene takes a huge step forward along their development path.
The league is set to kick off at the end of January and will last until March 27th when the finals are played out.
Like any eSports tournament streams will be available, with games being broadcasted on BTN2Go and watch.lolesports.com while the finals can be viewed on the Big Ten Network.
Collegiate eSports is taking a big step forward, as the Big Ten Network and game publisher Riot Games will announce a partnership on Thursday, where 12 of 14 schools in the conference will compete in a season-long League of Legends championship. The league will start Jan. 30 and will be broadcast on BTN2Go and watch.lolesports.com, with the finals televised on March 27 by the Big Ten Network.
Just like the world of traditional sports, with eSports rising to prominence and beyond, universities may well begin to provide professional eSports teams with new gamers, just like they provide basketballers to NBA teams and soccer players to MLS teams.
Either way, the announcement of the Big Ten LoL season is a massive boost for college gamers looking to legitimise their gaming tournaments, in the hope that this is the start of something big.
A college LoL competition has been in place since 2014 and, this season, it will be taken to new heights. An astounding 300 university teams are set to take part with over 30 programmes offering scholarships to team members.
With Riot Games and BTN teaming up to help develop this further, this can only bode well for the growing world of collegiate eSports.