Tanner Gross, Contributing Writer
The millennial generation has taken the leisurely video game and turned it into one of the most competitive sports watched by millions across the globe. This sport has gained so much fame that it can even be viewed on ESPN and you can sometimes see it being watched at your local sports bar or even on ESPN’s top 10 countdown. With professional scenes blowing up in games like Counter Strike: Global Offensive, and League of Legends, the collegiate scene has made a rise as well. Whenever there is a chance to become professional, college students will strive to achieve that level.
Students are not supported in their strides to become professional E-Sport players by collegiate staff. With all the support these games have, along with being teamed up with the marketing team of each game, they started a collegiate level scene that is comparable to the NCAA. The collegiate scene for E-Sports has been a scouting ground for professional teams, giving collegiate E-Sport athletes the same opportunity as college basketball, football or baseball players. Collegiate E-Sports even have started doing championships for each of their individual games and the company gives the winner of the championships upward to $100,000 in scholarships for their E-Sport team.
The University of Missouri–St. Louis has yet to dip their fingers into the honeypot that is E-Sports. Recently, a third-party company, Mission Control, has arrived at UMSL with its first taste of E-Sports with a recreational-style league. G. Byron Abrigg is a co-owner of Mission Control and an immense supporter of E-Sports, but he believes the way to reaching E-Sports-level play at a university starts with recreational play. “We are providing intramurals to students who have never participated in intramurals before and connecting students in the same way the normal intramurals do,” Abrigg commented on their approach to bringing E-Sports to campuses.
Abrigg and his partner Austin Smith have one big goal in mind, and that is to bring students who generally shelter themselves off to be involved in a community. “Student’s don’t always have to be face to face to gather into a community like you see recreational sports creating.” As a commuter college we face the toughest challenge to overcome and that is campus interaction. Abrigg said this in terms of campus interaction, “Video games connect students even those who are commuters or strictly online students and allows them to have a college experience they would not be able to get otherwise.”
Abrigg and Mission Control have had some of their biggest successes on UMSL’s campus, with students drawing a large interest in their league. Also, they not only drew in student involvement with their company, but they got students interested in starting an E-Sports club on campus. Looking at all of this should give us an encouragement to push forward with the help of Mission Control to bring E-Sports to UMSL.
One way E-Sports will bring more interaction is by broadcasting games. People could broadcast games or highlights within areas in the Nosh that would attract students to participate. UMSL has a large untapped potential in the fact that it has over 16,000 students enrolled but is missing in its campus participation rate of less than 10 percent. Bringing an interactive community such as E-Sports onto UMSL’s campus could double foot traffic within facilities as well as double student participation.
Another way E-Sports will bring about a change on UMSL’s campus is community. It will draw people to a central location (campus) and bring them there for a specific thing. UMSL lacks a sense of community, a sense of purpose for students to stay on campus for anything other than classes. Students need to grab ahold of this opportunity and make it their own, creating a community that allows for students to be on campus for something other than just school.
E-Sports is on the rise and that is inevitable. However, if UMSL does not jump onto the train that is collegiate E-Sports they may never catch it. This could be the “thing” that catapults UMSL to a national stage that shows off what UMSL is and why students should want to go to school there. It would be a huge mistake by faculty and the UM System if they did not capitalize on this staple product of the future.