Esports Coming To Akron


Graphic courtesy of The University of Akron

By Erika Newcome and Colin Brennan

The University of Akron recently announced their plans to begin the first varsity esports team at a University in Northern Ohio. Esports, better know as organized high-level multiplayer gaming.

Competitions take place among other collegiate teams, in front of large audiences. Most esports tournaments are also lived streamed on the internet or broadcasted on television, creating a demand students with an interest in the media side of esports.

The University of Akron is set to join only 45 other universities as they begin a varsity esports team, starting in the fall of 2018. A variety of esports teams will be competing in games, such as the League of Legends, Rocket League, HearthStone, OverWatch, and many more to be revealed.

“UA implementing an esports team is a dream come true, I’ve been playing for years – competing in similar esports tournaments through AVGL, a collegiate tournament organizer. I’ve competed on a team comprised of Kent State and The University of Toledo students, so it’s really a dream true come true Akron is establishing a team,” Junior Matt Spiedel said.  

The director of esports and head coach for the inaugural season will be Michael Fay, coming all the way from Vermont to carry out this opportunity to coach a varsity esports team. At 26 years of age, Michael graduated from Champlain College, with a Masters in Emergent Media. Fay is currently responsible for the creation of UA’s esports team, overseeing student coaches and players, in addition to overseeing the daily operations of the esports program.

The varsity program will have 30-35 members on the team and will be held in the Honors College. However, there is also an associative team that will have over hundreds of students involved. To not isolate the team from the other athletics on campus, the team will be given academic oversight, such as tutoring, to make sure that competitors stay eligible.

“The biggest thing for new players new to esports to know is that consistency is key. Keep playing, and practice getting used to playing with multiple players. Teamwork is crucial, and practicing with your team is a really important component in being successful in an esports team,” Spiedel said.

If you’re not a gamer, but this is something that garners your interest, there is still an opportunity. According to the University, the team is still looking for students majoring in engineering, communications, health and wellness, and many others to be involved in assist in the success of esports at UA.

The University is also taking innovative steps in developing this esports program, and getting other interested parties involved by offering a variety of summer classes for students to learn about video production, and the live streaming aspect of eSport. No previous experience is necessary, as classes are offered to all majors at UA with zero prerequisites.

Esports offers students with a certain passion and skill a chance to shine, while also tapping into a fastly growing esports market. According to the 2017 Global esports Market Report by Newzoo, esports will grow from $250 million in revenue in 2015 to an anticipated $700 million in 2017. By bringing in another form of private donors and money to our University. President Matthew Wilson said in a recent interview that the esports team will “significantly” benefit the students involved while also benefiting the University.

UA hopes to attract more students with an interest in esports to the University. Fay is currently working with others in the University community to assist in integrating the esports experience further into the academic and entrepreneurial experience, while President Wilson has plans to travel to local high schools to inform students and staff about the all the opportunities the University has to offer.

Those involved, like Spiedel, already seem overjoyed. As the University has received hundreds of emails about joining Akron’s esports team. In the Universities recent esports promotional video, the question was asked about what this opportunity truly means to these students – the overwhelming answer being most can’t believe they actually have a chance to be on a team and compete for something that is usually just a hobby for them.

The University has not yet released the esports team tryout dates; however, interested parties can find more information and fill out a player form of interest, here.