Scholarships Help Pave the Road from College Student to Professional Gamer

E-sports has been steadily growing and with its rise in popularity, universities are now rewarding students that play. A new college has just been added to the list of universities that give scholarships to players that excel. With colleges supporting these athletes, they will be better equipped to excel beyond college and become professional players.

Illinois College in Jacksonville, Illinois has just started offering  scholarships to students. The program is expected to start in the fall, and the university has hired Christian Matlock to coach two e-sports teams.

The most popular competitive collegiate games are League of Legends, Dota 2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Overwatch.

While it may all seem like fun and games (pun intended) these students are just like other college athletes. They practice roughly 20 hours a week and study professional plays to help improve their own performance.

If you are reading this, you may be wondering what other universities offer scholarships.

Most gamers know about UCI and its reputation for recently opening a gaming arena at its university, but it is also the first public university to offer a League of Legends e-sports scholarship. The program was also supported by Riot.

Robert Morris University was the first college in the United States to offer scholarships. The university is a non-profit private college. RMU has had its scholarship program for almost three years and specifically rewards League of Legends players. The university’s scholarships pays for up to 50 percent of tuition and room and board.

There are plenty of other universities that offer similar opportunities and 27 schools have committed to collegiate e-sports associations.

Teams practice roughly 10 hours a day so that they can win in national competitions. Other student athletes are typically restricted to 20 hours per week. A lot of the time these players push themselves to 40 hours per week, which is a normal week for e-sports teams.

It is argued that e-sports isn’t really a sport, but IMG Academy argues that e-sports players require stamina, concentration, finely tuned motor skills and focus. IMG has its own e-sports division to help train players by helping them with concentration, nutrition and mental focus.

Students such as Derek Micheau at RMU play for scholarships so that their tuition is covered, but never intend to go pro. Micheau told the Chicago Tribune, “I’m using my level of skill to put me through school,” he said. “Next year is my final year of school and ‘League of Legends.’ I’m going to hang it up and get a real job.”

Others have used their time as e-sport college athletes to pursue careers as professionals. With universities helping to support students it is only becoming easier for college students to pursue actual careers playing video games professionally.

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