University of Arizona sets up competitive intercollegiate esports team

Esports, a form of competition using video games, is gaining in popularity. So much so, in fact, that University of Arizona is launching a competitive intercollegiate team, the first of its kind in the state.

UArizona already had an esports club, but during the COVID-19 pandemic, they decided to expand it to an intercollegiate team, in order to compete against other PAC-12 schools.

“There is a stigma against esports because people see it as playing games,” said eSports Program Interim Director Walter Ries. “It is a growing field. It is really coming more into the mainstream.”

The way an esports competition works is that two teams go head to head, and are rated depending on the objective of the game.

On top of competing, UArizona will also have a whole program geared around potential careers in the esports industry, from the marketing, broadcast, or business side.

Students who compete on an esports team at Willow Canyon High School in Surprise say for a big name school like UArizona to create an intercollegiate gaming team is a big boost for them to want to work even harder.

“iWth [UArizona] being a Division 1] now, it is hitting the mainstream,” said head coach Jon Alfred. “You will see NCAA money.”

Tryouts at UArizona will begin in the fall, and the university is looking for students that are good players and good sportsmen. Scholarships aren’t available right now, but university officials are hoping to make that possible for students in the future.

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