eSports phenomenon provides opportunities for student gamers

Jake Karlsberg

Contributor

 

Apart from the people who are passionately involved in the gaming community, most sports fans are completely unaware that eGaming is the fastest growing sport in the world.

According to an Aug. 30 New York Times article, “Having already upended the entertainment world – global revenue for games is $20 billion higher than the music industry’s and is chasing that of the movie business.”

This large consumer base is now participating in watching amateur and professional game competitions, known as eSports, in record numbers.

A Feb. 9 Sports Illustrated article explained that the recent Dota championship, an international eSports tournament, had prize money in excess of $20 million and an audience that sold out the Seattle Key Arena. The first prize of $9 million rivals those of any professional sports event. eSports not only provides big revenue for participants and team owners but it is also a source of untapped revenue for advertisers to target.

Just like most people are unaware of the global eSports phenomenon, most FDU students and faculty are oblivious to the fact that an eSports team has been created right here on the FDU campus.

During the Fall 2016 semester, longtime gamer and FDU student Drew Seich formed FDU’s first-ever collegiate eSports team. This team is run in a manner similar to any NCAA collegiate sports club. The team conducts tryouts, maintains a rigorous training schedule, competes against other universities in the “League of Legends” tournament and has rigid academic requirements.

“FDU gamers are students first and gamers second,” Seich said.

Seich’s inspiration and motivation to create FDU’s eSports team originated from watching live streams on YouTube of college and professional gamers competing against one another.

“As a fan, I realized that eSports were very exciting and competitive. They combined the physical aspect of sports with intellectual strategies,” he said. “Needless to say this is a very appealing combination for a sports nerd like myself.”

Once Seich became fascinated by the idea of creating an FDU gaming team, his next step was to make it a reality. Through diligent research he discovered that many colleges already had eSports teams and some even offered scholarships for participating students. All Seich needed to get started was to find an adviser for his gaming club and get the word out to a large community of gamers, secluded in dormitories on FDU’s Florham Campus.

Even though FDU is a small school, word spread rapidly among gamers, and in record time Seich had enough participants to create a team roster. After finalizing a roster, Seich applied to the League of Legends website for admission and soon FDU gamers were competing internationally against other universities. These competitions involve a bracket of college teams that play against each other in a 5 versus 5 matchup in attempt to go undefeated and increase the rank of their team on a national scale.

Seich’s ultimate goal for the FDU eSports team is to increase awareness by utilizing web forums, social media, newspapers and posters.

He hopes that this increased public awareness about FDU’s eSports team will not only expand its fan base but also encourage the university to provide an arena where fans can actually watch events live, instead of live streaming them at home.

Seich is confident that once a fan base can watch or participate in tournaments at FDU, the perception will be created that these are real sporting events.

If this comes to fruition, his legacy will be recognized as the founder of the first eSports team on campus.

Perhaps in 10 to 15 years, the FDU gaming community will thank Seich and his teammates for their determination and foresight to involve Fairleigh Dickinson University in the ever-expanding eSports industry.

This could be a huge source of revenue and also attract more applicants who are interested in game design, programming and competing for the FDU eSports team.

It is not far-fetched to imagine in the near future that FDU gamers will be offered athletic scholarships, compete in large arenas surrounded by a fanatical fan base and gain national recognition.

No matter what the future holds, Seich and his fellow gamers have left their mark as advocates for gamers on the FDU campus for years to come.

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