Kent - The Mid-American Conference announced Wednesday a historic esports venture with a newly created independent esports conference – Esports Collegiate Conference – to facilitate and foster high-quality gaming competition among collegiate esports teams. Kent State University is among the 12 founding members of the new esports conference.
The Esports Collegiate Conference (Esports Collegiate or ESC) will provide structure, scheduling and championship opportunities for its membership, with competition beginning with the 2020-2021 academic year. Esports Collegiate is an independent entity and will operate separately from the MAC.
Esports Collegiate will feature fall and spring seasons, competing in game titles such as Overwatch and League of Legends. An Esports Collegiate Champion will be crowned in each game title, with the champion earning an automatic bid to the national postseason tournament.
“We are excited to be one of the founding members of the Esports Collegiate Conference,” said Maria Hawkins, director of Esports Operations at Kent State. “This opportunity allows Kent State Esports to continue to grow in various ways. From a competitive focus, this is an excellent opportunity for our varsity teams to showcase all of their hard work. The ESC will also help the university create pathways for students to get hands-on experience in the support activities around esports, giving them the background needed to support careers in the field after graduation.”
Kent State’s esports program is about to enter its second year of competition. Competing in four titles – Overwatch, League of Legends, Hearthstone and Rocket League – the Kent State team has advanced to collegiate national finals twice in the past year, and it brought home the first place prize in Hearthstone from the Harrisburg University Invitational.
Kent State’s varsity esports team has 32 rostered players, which include substitute and player-coaches. The varsity players are eligible to receive scholarships from $300 to the full cost of tuition, depending on their skills and their academic merit. Varsity players are held to grade point average (GPA) minimum standards and are expected to participate in study tables and mandatory advising, and complete satisfactory progress toward a degree to remain eligible by university guidelines.
Kent State is focused on student health and well-being, and is ensuring that its esports players are no exception. Team members are expected to participate in group physical training and conditioning as well as undergo interventions to prevent repetitive strain of their wrist, backs and eyes. They also have access to a nutritionist, sport psychologist and other support staff who work one-on-one with players to help them maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Esports Collegiate’s founding members are the University of Akron, Ball State University, Bowling Green State University, University at Buffalo, Central Michigan University, Eastern Michigan University, Kent State, Miami University, Northern Illinois University, Ohio University, University of Toledo and Western Michigan University.
A seven-member Competition Committee has been established to oversee scheduling, game title selection/recommendations, championship format and any other infrastructure issues that may arise.
For more information about Kent State Esports, visit www.kent.edu/esports.
Photo courtesy of Kent State University
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