Written by Corbin Schmidt
The world of collegiate esports can sometimes be seen as daunting and uncertain, but there are many reasons to get involved with your school’s local scene. Some benefits can be very overt such as having the opportunity to represent your school and show off your own skills, or scholarships offered for those with demonstrable skills and experience. While these benefits can be enough to gain the interest of potential recruits, there are also some underlying benefits that may not be your first thought upon hearing collegiate esports.
Lots of people may have a favourite game they play every day for fun or to climb the ranked ladder, but the experience provided by collegiate esports can really put those skills to the test. Not everyone is trying to be a team player when it comes to the public ranked systems in most video games, so joining a team will bring on a different environment. The size of your school and the history of their esports program may bring a different environment as well but oftentimes you will find a lot of other individuals who are making their first foray into organized competition in a variety of esports titles. Those who aren’t new to the format are always very welcoming to others and are open to helping others improve so don’t be afraid to give it a try.
Due to the very nature of collegiate esports, your school and education will always come first. You will still be expected to be available a couple times a week for a practice and competition, but scheduling is generally very easy as nothing will happen during your class time. With that being said there is still room for flexibility, no one wants to exclude anyone, especially over scheduling. If a certain day or time doesn’t work, just be sure to bring it up to everyone involved so it can be worked around.
Risk vs. Reward
The “risk” with getting involved in collegiate esports is almost zero, but the benefit on the other-hand is immense. Whether you are interested in being a player, coach, or support staff, there are lots of opportunities. As mentioned previously, this can be many individuals’ first time playing in organized competitive video gaming so there is lots of time to learn about different aspects and gain first-hand experience.
Just like traditional team sports there are a lot of skills required both inside and outside of the game, and joining a team is only the first step in developing these skills. When it comes to esports, one of the most important skills is communication. Since you are constantly working as a team while competing, you will have endless opportunities to work on communication and decide what works well and what doesn’t. Communication also goes hand-in-hand with collaboration. Since you are working as a team it is important to maintain a good dynamic between all individuals involved. Problem solving is also at the heart of esports. When it comes to the “meta” of a certain game or even a patch within that game, the strategies are constantly evolving and you need to be able to identify the problems and either adapt to them on the fly or work towards a long-term solution. Time management is a necessity as school will always come first for varsity esports, but that doesn’t mean practice time can be neglected. Joining a team is another commitment that must be balanced just like all other aspects of life. Finally, being able to manage both successes and failures is very important when it comes to attitude and improvement. If you can’t handle failures or losing in a proper way then there will be a lot more to work on before you can take on committing to a team. Handling successes is also important as they can be major achievements but are still just stepping stones while working towards the future.
Whether you make the team or not, attending a tryout for a varsity team is a great way to meet people. Since tryouts are game specific you can be assured that those in attendance have a shared interest with you in whatever game you’re looking to try out for. At the same time, don’t limit yourself to only socializing with others about that initial interest. Esports are a great starting point for connecting with people and there are many paths and branches that connect to esports themselves. No one is going to be competing 24/7 so they will have other interests or may be looking for something else to do.