Beginning in Fall 2019, Arcadia University will launch a co-educational esports program as a varsity sport where gamers will compete as part of Arcadia’s athletic programs. Some games that are being considered for implementation are League of Legends, Hearthstone, Overwatch, and Rocket League. Arcadia is renovating a 1,500-square-foot space on campus to serve as the central competition arena, which is expected to be completed in August 2019.
“We are excited and proud to offer students a competitive, Division III environment in which to compete in esports. Esports has helped to bring an added dimension to the world of college athletics, opening up competitive opportunities for students in a burgeoning field. We also consider ourselves fortunate to have a dedicated space on campus for a gaming arena,” said Athletics and Recreation at Arcadia University director Brian Granata.
Program and facilities
Arcadia’s esports program will be led by a program director and include a head coach for each sponsored game. Teams will compete in an arena equipped with 36 high-end gaming PCs, multiple console-based systems, and a projection system for coaches to use for film study and game review. The space also includes coaches offices and a players’ lounge. In addition to the competitive athletics program, the arena will be available to various groups on campus, such as the Gaming Club, and have specified open usage hours.
Students will be invited to play based on interest. Depending on student interest, Arcadia may hold tryouts for the main teams, with alternatives being added for practice sessions. Arcadia is planning for two teams per game.
Esports, or electronic sports, are a form of competitive video-game playing in which teams compete in a variety of genres, including MOBAs, real-time strategy, sports, and more. The National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE), the field’s governing body, was formed in 2016 with seven colleges and universities competing as a varsity sport. Today, more than 140 colleges and universities are members of the NACE. Arcadia is applying for NACE membership.
By the fall, Arcadia will be one of eight colleges and universities in the MAC offering an esports varsity athletic program, joining Albright College, DeSales University, Delaware Valley University, Lebanon Valley College, Misericordia University, Stevenson University, and Widener University.