Valparaiso University has announced plans for the launch of an esports program that is set to begin in the fall of 2019. The University will offer competitive esports through the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE).
“We are very excited to be adding a new opportunity for our students to compete not only on a national, but also an international level,” Valparaiso Director of Athletics Mark LaBarbera said. “Esports is the fastest growing area of competition globally with an expanding viewership not only online, but also on traditional broadcast outlets. Gaming has become an established part of the lives of many of our students, and we are excited to give them a formal way to make it part of their Valpo experience.”
The program will be housed under Valpo Recreational Sports and will be playing “League of Legends,” which is one of the most popular titles in the esports community. The platform uses a 5-on-5 format.
“We are incredibly excited to offer this opportunity to our students and the many generations of Valpo students to come,” Valparaiso University Associate Director of Recreational Sports Tristan Leonhard said. “Esports is an emerging, competitive field with multiple collegiate championships and given that there is already a large amount of student interest on campus in creating a team, we are ready to hit the ground running.”
Popularity on the professional level has led to the expansion of esports, which is now offered in over 130 colleges and universities. There are over 3,000 student-athletes who are members of NACE, which connects collegiate esports programs across the country to one another. The member-driven organization focuses on the positive development of esports programs at the collegiate level. NACE is committed to helping members grow strong esports programs to benefit Universities and students alike. The organization has seen rapid growth since launching with seven colleges and universities in July 2016.
“While we are eager to put together a team that can win matches, this provides the opportunity to create a new sense of community on campus from the beginning,” Leonhard said. “Competitive gaming creates an inclusive environment that embraces teamwork, leadership development, problem solving and communication skills. Esports will allow for students to continue to succeed and build character in various activities outside of the classroom.”