Should You Try For a Gaming Scholarship Instead of a Football One?
It might sound like a joke at first, but playing video games could actually get you a paid ride through college. This comes after eight students on Michigan State University’s League of Legends team earned scholarships to play video games, most with a $5000 paycheck. The funding actually came from Riot Games, the creator of League of Legends. However, there are more than a dozen other colleges from Robert Morris University to the University of California that are currently offering scholarships for budding gamers. This begs the question: should you try to earn a scholarship playing video games for several hours a day, instead of hurting your back for football tryouts?
It’s not all fun and games
This question largely depends how on how you view gaming in general. For most of us, gaming is a hobby. We enjoy the social aspect of online gaming, look forward to the release of the newest titles and immerse ourselves in fantastical worlds we would otherwise never be able to see. A competitive gamer, however, sees the world of gaming through a very different prism. It’s a rigid discipline in which hours have to be dedicated to honing one’s skills each and every day. It requires commitment and dedication. It’s common to form and manage a team via a clan website, which are often controlled by the coaches. Training sessions are often also scheduled and plays from previous games are constantly analyzed to improve the team’s gameplay. It’s treated more like a 9-5 office job than a pastime: come to work, practice, knuckle down and improve your skills as the big tournaments approach. After all, at the end of the day it’s a paying gig – and it pays well.
What’s the payoff?
This depends on the game, the size of the audience as well as the tournament in question – but for the sake of scale, we’ll look at the largest payout to date. In 2017, the International – Dota 2’s dazzling crème de la crème of eSport tournaments – saw Team Liquid walk away with almost $11 million from a prize pool of over $19 million. Split six ways, that means that each player received almost $2 million. With numbers like that, it’s no wonder that gaming developers are targeting university students in the hopes of nurturing the next generation of competitive gamers.
Is it worth it?
That depends. Getting to the level where you might be considered for a scholarship is going to take a lot of dedication, not to mention superlative teamwork. It’s not merely about playing games; if you’re going to compete with the pros out there, you’re going to have to sacrifice a lot of your time. On top of that, many schools don’t yet offer these types of endorsements. However, the same was probably said about football and baseball a long time ago. And seeing as the current trend of eSports is going nowhere except sharply skyward, it’s fair to assume that teams will be seeing a lot more attention from universities in the coming years.