The University of Pikeville, a small Kentucky college made headlines this week when they announced that they’d be joining Robert Morris University in offering video games as a varsity sport. The school will be offering 20 scholarships to students this fall to those who are talented League of Legends players.
League of Legends is no joke when it comes to competitive online gaming, often referred to as eSports. And while UPike’s media director explained that the recruitment process would “involve going to local high schools, playing practice matches with students, and collecting information on candidates’ ratings and toxicity reports,” we can’t help but think this is an attempt to draw in international students to their school. LoL has an absolutely massive following in Asia and abroad, and some of the world’s top teams hail from the East.
It’s a really smart play, as the school has very little to lose and a lot to gain. They’re only the second school to offer eSports scholarships. Whether you agree with it or not, the fact of the matter is that eSports are growing very quickly, and a school like UPike has a real opportunity to be on the forefront.
The Pikeville Bears (the team name) will be entering the Collegiate Star League (CSL), an intercollegiate gaming league open to all accredited colleges and universities in North America. They will have one team competing in the CSL Division 1, and three teams competing in Division 2. Since the LoL games are 5-on-5, that accounts for the 20 scholarships.
For more on this news, read the official statement from UPike here.