You may have heard about gamers winning large sums of money in tournaments. Millions, even. This is esports, and it’s steadily become more and more accepted as an official sport along the lines of football or chess. In fact, two schools are now offering scholarships for teenagers who get really good at League of Legends, and the University of Pikeville, in Kentucky, is one of them (the other is the Robert Morris University in Chicago).
Bruce Parsons, the university’s media director, describes League of Legends as a game taking skill, practice, and a lot of teamwork, just like more traditional sports.
When it comes right down to it, League of Legends is essentially a meld of games like football and chess. The competition and strategic reasoning of chess combined with the teamwork of football makes League of Legends a reasonable addition to the school’s sports roster. Parsons notes that students will still have to maintain the same standards as any athlete, devoting study and practice time to the sport while maintaining a good GPA.
League of Legends is a capture-the-flag game where five-player teams compete to take the one another’s base. Each player controls a character, and each character has a specific ability set that can be used strategically. The game currently has a total of 123 characters, or ” champions,” to choose from. There are positions, just as in any traditional sport, and some champions are more suited to some positions. While a football player might end up a linebacker, a League player might choose a position in the solo top lane or the jungle. There are also roles in League of Legends—marksman, for instance, or bruiser. Finally, as with football, there are phases of the game where different actions and strategies work better than others. And, of course, players need to learn to work together through all of these choices as a team.
Pikeville will offer 20 scholarships at the beginning of the new school year, and their current team will compete in the Collegiate StarLeague this coming fall.