Students take on the sport of competitive gaming

By Josh Alfrey

Competitive gaming is now a true profession, making the best teams $175,000 richer for playing at the highest level.

Playing video games competitively is now a full-time career for those who are dedicated enough to try their hand. Thanks to Riot Games, developers of the computer game League of Legends (LoL), the best players are able to make a living playing their video game.

Riot Games has set up a competitive gaming (eSports) league called the league championships series to start off its third season of professional LoL play. The league championship series (LCS) is where the top eight teams from North America and Europe receive salaries and play weekly for a chance at a multi-million dollar prize pool.

The LCS isn’t the only way Riot Games has chosen to nurture the community of competitive gaming. It is also assisting in the creation of LoL and gaming clubs in colleges throughout the nation. By offering gifts and prizes to the creators of LoL clubs, Riot Games hopes to spread the competitive scene on a collegiate level.

Eric Stadlman, senior computer science major, sees collegiate eSports as a huge step in the right direction for competitive gaming.

“College teams are helping spread the legitimacy of eSports on their campuses,” Stadlman said. “Most of the best players are between the ages 19 to 21 but can’t get the same exposure as the professionals. That’s where the clubs help.”

No other gaming company has invested so much in competitive gaming, building LoL battle arenas in places like Cologne, Germany, where games are broadcast every weekend on Twitch.TV.

Having salaried teams allows for the best players of Europe and North America to practice their gameplay without having to worry about the financial impact of playing a videogame all the time. As Riot Games supports their lifestyle, these professional gamers support the game by testing new content for public servers and drawing in a large audience to watch their games. These games had more than 8 million unique streams worldwide during the second season world championship.

The competitive gaming world has been growing exponentially in the last couple years due to the assistance of companies like Riot Games pumping life and money into a once-underground scene. Through the LCS and collegiate clubs, maybe the next great LoL team will be coming from a university near you.