Northwest Christian University’s mix of recruits for the 2018-2019 school year will include a new group of student-athletes: Video Gamers. They will comprise the first intercollegiate esports varsity team roster in Oregon. When they sign letters of intent this spring and begin play in Fall 2018, they will be Beacons.
“NCU is excited to add esports as its 15th varsity sport and we look forward to welcoming the first esports athletes to our campus,” said Sarah Freeman, NCU’s associate athletic director and interim esports coach. “Esports is one of the fastest growing sports collegiately and throughout the world. The addition of esports puts NCU at the forefront of its burgeoning popularity among young people and its acceptance as true athletic competition.”
Freeman made the announcement on Friday night during a streamed interview with Jamie Harris at the Satellite Gaming event hosted by Lakepoint Community Church at Claggett Creek Middle School in Keiser. More than 400 competitors attended the event.
Esports is one of the fastest growing sports not only in collegiate athletics but throughout the world. The industry has grown into one of the most watched competitive entertainment products with annual global viewership eclipsing 200 million people. According to Esports Charts website (esc.watch), the 2017 League of Legends championship drew an online viewership of more than 60 million people worldwide which is more than the NBA Finals, MLB World Series and the NHL Stanley Cup Finals.
At the outset, the NCU eSports team will compete in League of Legends and Overwatch, two of the most popular games in competitive gaming. Additional games could be added in the future.
NCU is currently in the development stages for a planned on-campus gaming arena and recruitment for a head coach and players begins immediately. Gamers will have the opportunity to earn athletic scholarships to compete, similar to those provided to NCU’s 14 other athletic teams.
“For this first season, we will recruit six to 12 esports scholarship athletes who will compete in a regular season and then tournament from a state-of-the-art arena on campus,” Freeman said. “Over time, we will add games such as Hearthstone, Rocket League, Smash Bros, and others to the competitive mix.”
A team roster and competition schedule will be released on GoBEACONS.com in the fall.
The NCU esports program will be the 66th school to join the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE), a nonprofit membership association organized by and on behalf of member institutions. NACE consists of colleges and universities across the country and more than 90 percent of all esports programs in the United States, both varsity programs and university clubs, are members of NACE.
“Adding eSports enriches our campus life,” said Michael Fuller, Vice President for Enrollment and Student Development. “Like all NCU students, we want our esports athletes to have a classroom and competition experience based on what we believe are the tenants of an NCU education: wisdom, faith and service. We look forward to this new chapter in NCU athletics.”
A national search is currently underway (now completed) for a head coach and recruitmenting for student-athletes has already begun. Players interested in competing for NCU are encouraged to learn more about NCU Esports and fill out an online recruiting form. Any questions may be directed to Esports Head Coach Taylor Lind.