Fact sheet: Esports at The University of Akron

What is esports?

Esports is organized team-based, multiplayer online video gaming. Competitions among collegiate teams and professionals can take place in arenas in front of large audiences, and are streamed on the internet or broadcast on television.

Beside the University of Akron, what other institutions have varsity esports programs?

About 45 universities across the country have established official varsity team programs. Though smaller colleges initially started establishing such programs, major universities with official esports teams now include the University of Utah, Georgia State University, Boise State University and the University of California, Irvine.

Will UA’s esports program be similar to the school’s athletic programs?

The structure of the program will mirror traditional varsity athletics with team members participating in tryouts, wearing uniforms and maintaining practice schedules. Esports will be housed in UA’s Williams Honors College.

What are the academic connections?

As with traditional UA athletic programs, students involved in the esports program will receive academic oversight, and will maintain academic standards in order to participate or remain on a team. The program will foster experiential learning opportunities and help participants develop leadership, teambuilding and job skills. Engineering and computer science students have volunteered to build the machines for UA’s esports arena; communications students can broadcast games and provide commentary, while also serving as videography and audio experts; graphic designers can create uniforms and logos; and students in various health professions majors can work with the teams as personal trainers, sports psychologists and nutritionists.

What types of games are played in esports programs?

Some of the most popular strategy and battle video games played by collegiate esports teams include League of Legends (a multi-player game similar to capture the flag), Rocket League (automobiles playing sports), Hearthstone (a card game) and many others.

Is there a fan base for esports like there is for traditional sports?

The recent championship tournament for the most popular esports game – League of Legends – drew nearly as many viewers as the Super Bowl. The tournament was viewed online, at movie theaters and various other venues. Competitions have sold out the STAPLES Center in Los Angeles and New York City’s Madison Square Garden. Viewers can watch competitive video games through YouTube and Twitch, an online broadcast service. Plus, the Big Ten Network has started streaming esports content as part of its regular programming.

What is an esports arena?

Like traditional sports, esports competitions and practices take place in special venues that can accommodate players and audiences. UA’s esports arena—at a location yet to be announced—will be equipped with customized computers, headsets, large-screen TVs and other digital tools.

Is esports a lucrative industry?

According to the 2017 Global esports Market Report by Newzoo, esports will grow from $250 million in revenue in 2015 to an anticipated $700 million in 2017. Newzoo expects the market will reach $1.5 billion by 2020. The Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors recently each spent $13 million buying a franchise in the League of Legends Championship Series. And, in the professional realm of esports, top teams and individuals have made up to $10 million through prize money and sponsorships.