The Rise of the College Esports Arena

This article was contributed by Matthew Carrico, Editorial Intern.

Esports are more prevalent than ever on college campuses. Varsity teams are competing in collegiate esports tournaments of varying genres across the country and beyond. Not just the United States but also colleges in places such as Canada and the United Kingdom are putting their own teams forward. Besides the professional scene, many colleges also offer esports services for more casual players usually in the form of clubs and walk-in tournaments. Other colleges are taking esports to the next level by introducing the world to their own dedicated esports facilities. 

Esports facilities are meant to offer students and the public a variety of ways to get involved in the field of esports whether via competitive play, causal bouts, or just general interaction from a representative present in the facility. The nature of these facilities can vary depending on the college. Some take the form of an arena where big competitions are held while others are more akin to a community center where people can come in and have their fair share of enjoyment. This article looks to analyze various forms of these facilities in order to get a better understanding of the operations and perhaps inspire someone to get their college or university to start their own if one is not already present.

Recently, Livingstone College announced its own plans for a brand new esports complex coming to the campus. At the time of writing this, the facility is still under construction but is expected to be complete and open sometime in September 2021. This “state of the art” complex is built with five different sections with a dedicated focus. These focuses include the standard competitive esports, the online game iRacing, simulation golf machines, broadcasting for those looking for professional experience, and spaces dedicated to social gatherings. Already, this facility sounds to have many of the standard programs in place including competitive, career, and social services. The ones that stand out the most are iRacing and simulation golf. It is not often you hear about simulation golf machines in play on college campuses especially in terms of esports. On the other hand, iRacing is a relatively new online game with a stable release back in 2019. The game still looks to be gaining popularity and with the implications of the facility, iRacing may soon find itself as a professional esports platform. Dr. Jimmy R. Jenkins, president of Livingstone College, mentions in an article that the launch of the new facility is meant to represent Livingstone’s commitment to “remain relevant and progressive with the programs they offer.”

Now we will turn our heads and look at some of the top-rated esports facilities in a variety of colleges and universities. Miami University in Ohio contains a dedicated arena towards esports. Miami University is a D-1 athletics university and has been offering esports scholarships since 2016. Their arena is located on the first floor of the King Library and features 16 gaming computers with high-end graphics, TVs used to review past games and watch live games, and even offer summer camps for students to compete in tournaments and train as many of the professional varsity fighters. When it comes to the term “arena,” many people think of a place where competitions and events are held. With much effort, Miami University was able to become a widely recognized college for esports, especially since their Overwatch team came in first place in a NACE Overwatch Tournament. 

The University of California at Irvine is well known as the very first public university to create its own varsity esports teams. With this in mind, it is estimated that over 70% of the students on campus play video games, and their own esports facility is one of the most extensive as a result. Their facility houses over 70 gaming computers and their own dedicated arena for competitions and games. Each computer also comes with high-quality keyboards, headsets, and mouses. They even have a Console and Community Corner dedicated to console gaming. UC Irvine esports primarily focuses on Overwatch and League of Legends with scholarships dedicated to those games players. 

Maryville University of Saint Louis primarily focuses on League of Legends. This comes courtesy of a 40-0 streak back in 2016 in the League of Legends Championship. It is no surprise that they offer scholarships for the game that range up to $2000. The facility at Maryville includes its own practice venue for novice players. One thing that helps the facility stand out is an emphasis on the best internet speeds. This includes high-speed computers, top-of-the-line headsets, and gaming chairs for the best possible comfort and concentration in the gamers. With this in mind, proper internet speeds is a key element in the foundation of esports as a whole as it allows the games to be played with others.

There are a lot of colleges with their own dedicated facility. Some are completely unique while others are similar to one another. If you are interested to learn more about some of the countries top-rated esports facilities, check out this list.

With analysis out of the way, let us now break down some of the most important elements to consider when starting an esports facility for your college or personal business. First, it is important to have the right space for people to access. This should include an inviting, welcoming atmosphere. Location is important to factor in inaccessibility and first impressions towards your audiences. Second, the right equipment is key to bringing the facility to life. Have the best possible internet necessary to help the games run the best they can be. Have the best possible equipment such as computers, chairs, headsets, mice, televisions, etc. It is important to strike a balance between console and PC gaming for a little added variety. Third, have dedicated areas/sections such as arenas and social spots to encourage a love for esports and encourage newcomers and seasoned players to come and play. It is important to offer commodities such as scholarships not just to your own team if you decide to have one, but to people in the general public with an interest in esports. This could come in the form of professional experience in the field or just general knowledge from organized events potentially held by you. Collegiate esports facilities hold many possibilities for students and faculty. More and more colleges across the country and even the world are giving esports ago, and this is what leads to the constructions of these places. Arenas, social centers, and training programs make up a variety of these facilities but who knows what new ideas will come from them and further improve the esports industry. Check out this page for information on the elements to making an esports program.


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About The Author

Robbie Landis Host of the CheckpointXP National Show, Other Identity comic book podcast and a Dungeon Master. Robbie Landis has been playing games since Yoshi's Cookie Factory was released on the NES. He enjoys RPGs, APEX Legends and World of Warcraft.

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