Varsity eSports and the avalanche of scholarships

eSports arena.jpg

Video games started as a hobby, but now they're a career path.

Photo: Steel Series.

eSports have boomed in recent years and have taken over the entertainment world quite quickly. Only five years ago, very few people outside competitive gamers, commentators, and eSports analysts followed this discipline. But now, it's a worldwide entertainment business that can go toe-to-toe with traditional sports in terms of investment and fanbase.

Universities around the world have been all over this new tool to secure funding and recruit new students, using the best strategy at hand to enter the game: offering scholarships.

A new type of student-athlete

Until recently, it was unthinkable that being good at playing video games could secure anyone a bachelor's degree and a professional career. In 2019, gaming is a job in itself.

In the United States, over 3000 college students compete in 130 different teams, according to the National Association of Collegiate eSports, which also reports a total of $15 million in scholarships from member universities.

More than a dozen American colleges offer scholarships specifically designed to foster gaming talent. Among those are Miami University, Utah University, Illinois Wesleyan University, and Columbia University, which has invested half a million dollars in scholarships for competitive gamers.

Spain is also raising its bet on Varsity eSports. University Esports, the official Spanish league, is entering its fourth season where 57 universities will compete for 40,000 euros in scholarships and other prizes.

But the big surprise worldwide is Mexico. In just a couple of years, the Mexican varsity league has grown exponentially. Since its foundation in 2017, it has brought together 125 teams, all comprised of high-performance athletes who compete for the same rewards and financial backing as any other varsity team.

Tecnológico de Monterrey leading the way

Tecnológico de Monterrey, a Mexican private university, has set the goal of becoming the best in developing gaming talent. Last year, three varsity teams -Borregos Monterrey, Borregos Chihuahua, and Borregos Guadalajara- won first, second, and third first place, respectively, at the CONADEIP eSports National Championship.

Also, last August 27th, Tecnológico de Monterrey inaugurated the Arena Borregos eSports, the first training and competition venue of its kind in Latin America. With 492 square feet of extension, the facility is equipped with the latest technology, such as 3D graphics cards, powerful processors, ergonomic chairs with speakers, and gaming headsets.

Competitive gaming as a sports discipline and a means for attaining higher education is becoming common practice now. Shortly, we could be talking about a whole new generation of professionals who graduate from college thanks to their passion for gaming.