EUGENE, Oregon – Esports is one of the fastest growing sports in college athletics and Northwest Christian University is one of dozens of schools that offer cutting edge facilities to attract top athletes.
Tyler Chase started playing Overwatch, a shooter, when he was in his second year in high school. He is now one of the best players in the world, ranking among the top 500.
He said he never expected his love of the game to continue in college.
“I really enjoyed playing games, but I felt like there was no incentive to play games,” Chase said. “My parents and I both agreed that it would be better for me to focus on sports.”
That was until he discovered Northwest Christian University’s new program. It is the first college in Oregon to offer esports as a varsity sport.
“I still spend time convincing people, including the students, ‘Hey, I’m going to give you a scholarship to come and play for us,'” said coach Taylor Lind.
Just like the 14 other NCU sports teams, players can win scholarships. Chase was offered $ 6,500 a year to prepare for the Beacons.
“It’s like a dream come true,” he said.
Right now there is only one six-player squad for NCU, but they are looking to add teams for other games, like Rocket League, League of Legends, and Fortnight.
Lind said studies show that by 2020 esports will be the most watched activity behind football in America.
“These competitions can attract up to 400,000 people to watch at the same time,” Lind said.
The annual turnover is expected to reach over $ 1 billion. It’s five times what it was just five years ago.
And for those who don’t see it as a sport, Lind said there are a lot of similarities.
“As someone who has coached a lot of basketball and golf and a lot of different sports, we do pretty much the same things here as when I coached basketball. Our guys always come together as a team and s “Coaching as a team. We are always working on mechanical things. We always break down our movie of the game, we just had to know what we had done and what we could do better,” he said.
Chase said that like any other sport, you have to work to reap the rewards.
“The only real limits to who can be good at games is whether or not you have an attitude of improvement. If you are willing to work hard and improve your game, like any other traditional sport, you can get good. in this area, “he said.