eSports – also known as electronic sports – are games that are played competitively in tournaments and competitions. While eSports leagues usually competed in tournaments hosted by major sponsors and large gaming corporations—schools are now adopting eSports and forming their own leagues to compete against other schools.
The demand for eSports was heard loud and clear, which prompted the creation of the Fanshawe Ultimate eSports League (FUEL). Fanshawe Student Union Events Coordinator Tyler Hetherington said that one of the first things he implemented after getting his position was to set up eSports at Fanshawe. After a successful first year, it was clear that the demand was there.
Competitive gaming is now being more prevalent as we see more people who are able to turn gaming into a promising career. For example, ‘Ninja’ (also known as Tyler Blevins) has reported that he was earning more than $500,000 per month from streaming on popular game streaming platform Twitch. With pop culture icons such as ‘Ninja’ – who has huge followings and massive sponsorships, it’s unsurprising that students would want to pursue a career in gaming themselves.
This Monday was Fanshawe Ultimate eSports League’s launch party for the year and students flooded in to participate in a competitive tournament of the classic eSports title Super Smash Brothers Melee. The night was a massive success with many gamers participating in the action-packed tournament. In addition, FUEL added Fortnite and NHL as the other titles offered this year. While students are mostly facing off each other, FUEL is looking to hopefully promote the creation of a competitive Fanshawe league due to its success. Hetherington also says that he hopes that the interest and talent by students in FUEL can prove that eSports can evolve into a varsity sport at Fanshawe.
Second year student Joey, who goes by the gamertag “Joester09” says that eSports should be treated no different than varsity sports and should be legitimized in the same regard. He also says that in order for Fanshawe to remain competitive, it should follow others schools’ in investing into an eSports program.
More schools such as Lambton College and St. Clair College have created eSports programs that attract students from all across the globe. The University eSports leagues have blown up in the past few years, and now schools are even investing in funds and scholarships to recruit players to join their eSports leagues. Specifically, St. Clair College team holds tryouts and offers scholarships to entice students from around the globe to join their eSports team.
However, if Fanshawe were to implement eSports into a varsity sport, it may face backlash as well. Hetherington says that FUEL has faced criticism before as some have deemed competitive gaming as not a sport. However, Hetherington argues that eSports requires the same skill, training, dedication, and talent that real sports do as well.
Regardless of whether or not Fanshawe will look into implementing varsity eSports leagues later on is uncertain. With game developer Epic Games investing $100-million in prize money for tournaments this year and DOTA 2 raising over $25.5 million dollars for its’ championship tournament held in Vancouver just last month, it’s clear that eSports is around to stay.
Though for now, all students that are interested can sign up at the FUEL website to participate.