Four Steps to Launch Your eSports Program

esports

The campus eSports revolution is taking off and if you don’t get on board now, you’ll be left in the dust. Gaming videos have dominated YouTube for years, and now esports are even finding a home on ESPN. We launched our competitive esports team at Drew University in Spring 2017 and are now starting to take our team outside our gates to challenge other colleges. Our first event had over 80 attendees – some were there to play – others just to watch. Interested in a club sport eSports team on your campus? Here are four easy steps to get you started:

  1. Find students. If your campus has a gaming club, this is a great place to start and/or you can send a simple survey and email to your students. This might gather a group of voracious students who were just waiting for an esports opportunity to present itself.
  2. Learn more. Unlike soccer, baseball or lacrosse, you and your team might not have any familiarity with the most popular video games played competitively today. These games are League of Legends, FIFA 18, Overwatch and Super Smash Bros. The most popular of these for competitive collegiate eSports is League of Legends. If these words look like Greek to you and your team, lean on your student body for help in explaining rules and managing competitions. At your first meeting, introduce the idea of competing against other schools and needing student leaders who can step up and help manage the operation of the team. Hopefully someone will emerge who can help the team – and you.
  3. Play! Organize a tournament like you would any other campus recreation competition: allot a few hours of time for the tournament, provide food and drink to fuel your competitors, and make sure you collect the names, emails and usernames of your competitors for future competitions. If you find like we did that League of Legends is the most popular game on your campus, you should have your student leaders help identify the top players through your tournaments. Traditional League of Legends matches are five players versus five players. Just like if you were starting a basketball team, have your student leaders assess the skills of your students and put together a great starting lineup whose skills complement each other, along with a healthy bench of players as well.
  4. Compete. The final step for your eSports team is to find people to play against. Your best and easiest bets might be the schools in your area and within your conference. Contact their recreation and student activities departments to see if they have a gaming/eSports team to get things rolling. Drew is a member of the Landmark Conference, and we are in the early stages of putting together a competitive eSports season with the other members of our conference. The best part of eSports is that you can compete with other colleges without leaving campus, so you can reach out to colleges across the country to compete too.

Putting together an eSports team really isn’t so different from putting together any other traditional sports team. And the skills your students will learn through participating in these teams are the same as well: leadership, communication, perseverance and determination.

Kerry Klug
Kerry Klug is the coordinator of Campus Recreation at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey. Outside of his office, Kerry loves spending time with his wife, friends, his cats Pocket and Posie, and is a fantasy sports blogger. Reach him at kklug@drew.edu.

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