Illinois College is expanding its athletic program to include competitive video gaming — commonly known as e-sports — joining a number of university programs nationwide.
Competitive gaming is becoming one of the fastest-growing recreations in the world. E-sports have grown from a fan base of 89 million in 2014 to more than 150 million in 2017 and is projected to exceed $1 billion in annual revenue by 2019. More than 90 percent of high school students regularly play video games.
“Illinois College is building an international reputation for inspiring achievement and empowering students to make a difference in the world and our e-sports program is one more way we’re preparing students to graduate ready for success in the 21st century,” said Stephanie Elpers Chipman, vice president for enrollment and marketing.
Gaming teaches strategic thinking, work ethic, teamwork, perseverance and creativity, “which correspond well with IC’s mission to provide a strong liberal arts education,” Chipman said.
The college’s new League of Legends team will consist of two co-ed teams, a blue and a white, much like a varsity and junior varsity teams. Each will have six members — five starters, plus an alternate — and will be led by e-sports head coach Christian Matlock. Illinois College will participate in the Collegiate Starleague and the National Association of Collegiate eSports. Scholarships will be available.
“Coach Matlock brings exciting experience working in e-sports at the collegiate and professional level,” athletic director Mike Snyder said. “He’s a great addition to IC’s coaching staff.”
The e-sports facilities will be in the Caine Student Center and include 10 computer gaming stations and a console gaming station.
Illinois College is recruiting students for the 2017-18 e-sports teams.
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