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A Community within a Community: How and why schools should start eSports programs

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A Community within a Community: How and why schools should start eSports programs

 

By Aaron Addison, LG Business Solutions USA

While most teachers and educators are aware of the eSports phenomenon and its ever expanding popularity, many remain unfamiliar with all the benefits an eSports program can offer to both students and schools themselves. Moreover, some educators looking to introduce eSports programs feel overwhelmed and in the dark about how to get started.

In the modern era, schools are expected to not only offer their students new ways to connect and learn, but also to future-proof their curriculums with the most up-to-date programs. eSports is a great way to tackle both.

 

eSports programs help students grow academically and socially

Gaming and eSports present students with many positive influences and opportunities. Through eSports, kids as young as middle school age can learn how to collaborate and expand their network of friends. Sometimes students who struggle to make friends through traditional sports join an eSports team, and suddenly they have their own group. Also, eSports can help students acquire new skill sets, including a better understanding of analytics and how to win and lose gracefully. The hope is students will take these essential skills with them through the rest of their academic careers and into their adult lives.

Additionally, eSports is a genuinely inclusive experience where gender, age, race, intellect level and background don’t matter. Pretty much anyone interested can join an eSports team and participate in competitions. The focus of eSports is really on having fun, and if students enjoy what they’re doing, they’re more likely to learn and want to continue coming back.

Once students graduate from high school and move on to college, they can choose to take advantage of the many scholarship opportunities available to eSports players. The National Association of Collegiate Esports estimates that more than 170 U.S. colleges have eSports programs offering around $16 million per year in scholarships. If students open the door to eSports and work on developing the skills they need to be good players, they will ultimately be exposed to more opportunities down the line.

 

New curriculums and offerings allow schools to stand out

Similarly, schools that dedicate the right technology and direction to developing eSports programs will see exciting returns. While some parents and educators still tend to think that video games are a negative distraction, that’s simply not the truth. eSports and online gaming have exploded from a cottage industry to a legitimate and exciting way school educators, superintendents, and university presidents can put their institutions ahead of the curve. Furthermore, since 2018, more than 8,600 high schools have started video-gaming teams.[1]

A great way to get started with an eSports program is to dedicate space and have an environment where the students feel like it’s theirs. Just like the football field or soccer stadium, this is their space where the team practices and gets better at what they do. Without a designated space, eSports players can lose the communication, collaboration and leadership opportunities that make gaming such a positive activity. In terms of technology, don’t be afraid to start small. Many eSports programs don’t require a considerable investment and consist of just a few monitors to begin with. At the other end of the spectrum, some of the larger eSports programs feature giant screens and sophisticated digital signage in arenas.

Along with the appropriate technology and environment, the most successful eSports programs are led by a passionate and engaged coach. Similar to traditional sports, students will perform best with a fun and energetic teacher guiding them. We’ve seen cases where schools have cutting-edge eSports technology and eager students, but without a strong leader, the eSports programs unfortunately struggle to be successful.

It’s essential that industry leaders and educators capture the mindset of children today to educate them properly. eSports is here, and it’s the future, so we need to embrace it with open arms and recognize its potential.

 

Aaron Addison is the in-house gaming expert for LG Business Solutions USA, a leading provider of advanced display technologies to the eSports industry.

[1] Flannery, Mary Ellen. “Esports See Explosive Growth in U.S. High Schools.” NEA, 16 Sept. 2021, https://www.nea.org/advocating-for-change/new-from-nea/esports-see-explosive-growth-us-high-schools.

 

eSports

DreamHack Dallas Hosts Over $1M in Esports Competitions Across Marquee Titles

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ESL FACEIT Group (EFG), the leading esports and video game entertainment company, and DreamHack, a leading global gaming festival, have announced a full slate of esports programming for DreamHack Dallas, taking place the weekend of May 31-June 2, 2024, at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center.

One of DreamHack’s longest-running North American gaming festivals, DreamHack Dallas features everything gaming under one roof. From the world-famous bring-your-own-computer (BYOC) LAN party, panels, and an expo, to art, cosplay, creator meet-and-greets, and much more, DreamHack Dallas offers attendees a great variety of activities for an unforgettable experience. Furthermore, the festival will host 13 unique esports competitions – including iconic titles like Counter-Strike 2, Overwatch, StarCraft® II, and more to come – with over $1 million in total prizing.

For the first time, several DreamHack Dallas esports events – including competitions in EA SPORTS FC™ 24, Tekken 8, Street Fighter 6, and more – will offer aspiring competitors the chance to qualify for this summer’s debut Esports World Cup. With new pipelines to a $60 million prize pool and a global audience in Riyadh, DreamHack is offering more opportunities than ever for grassroots talent to fight their way to the world stage.

Esports has been part of the fabric of DreamHack Dallas since the festival’s inception, and we’re excited once again to welcome tens of thousands of fans this summer to celebrate their favorite competitive titles,” said Shahin Zarrabi, Vice President, Festivals, ESL FACEIT Group. “From the 100th IEM event to the first-ever OWCS live event and qualifiers for Esports World Cup, DreamHack is celebrating every type of gamer, from world-class competitors to the next breakout stars.”

Dallas Hosts 16 Top Counter-Strike 2 Squads for 100th IEM Event

The birthplace of North American Counter-Strike esports will invite 16 of the world’s best teams to clash in Intel® Extreme Masters (IEM) Dallas, the 100th IEM event. With an ESL Pro Tour (EPT) Masters trophy, $250,000 in prizing, and qualification to an EPT Championship up for grabs, fans will watch as hometown heroes challenge international hopefuls in the US’s biggest Counter-Strike event of the year.

Overwatch Luminaries Assemble for First-Ever International Live Event for OWCS

The first-ever in-person Major tournament of Blizzard Entertainment and EFG’s Overwatch Champions Series invites eight of our competitive region’s top teams for a three-day showcase of industry-class talent. Featuring a prize pool supported by crowdfunding, fans can watch the action unfold live – or at home with the official broadcast or partnered co-streams – as teams face off to be the first team to claim an international OWCS title and qualify to compete at Esports World Cup.

ESL Impact Returns to DreamHack Dallas with $123K Season Finale

ESL Impact, a global all-women Counter-Strike circuit, returns to DreamHack Dallas for the exciting conclusion of Season 5 of competition. Eight of the world’s best women’s Counter-Strike teams representing North America, Europe, South America, and Asia will face off to see who will claim the title and the lion’s share of the $123,000 prize pool.

ESL Pro Tour in StarCraft® II Makes Masters Stop at DreamHack Dallas

The EPT in StarCraft® II, the title’s premier global esports circuit, continues with the ESL SC2 Masters: Spring 2024 Finals at DreamHack Dallas. Not only will competitors battle for their share of the $100,000 prize pool, but the opportunity to qualify for StarCraft® II competition at this summer’s inaugural Esports World Cup.

EA SPORTS FC™ 24 at DreamHack Dallas Kicks off Esports World Cup Qualifications

Electronic Arts’ soccer title, EA SPORTS FC™ 24, comes to DreamHack Dallas for the first time this summer with a world-class tournament. With the top two players securing their spot at Esports World Cup this August, the competition offers up to 250 competitors their first opportunity to qualify for EWC, in addition to $100,000 USD in total prizing.

Fighting Games take Center Stage with New DreamHack Fighters, Esports World Cup Tournaments

DreamHack’s marquee fighting game hub, DreamHack Fighters, brings six open tournaments to Dallas, including a mix of modern mainstays and FGC classics. Open to all registered attendees, competitors can face off to claim a slice of the $16,000 total prize pool. Participating titles include:

  • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate – Singles ($5,000)
  • UNDER NIGHT IN-BIRTH II Sys:Celes (UNI 2) ($2,500)
  • Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising ($2,500)
  • Guilty Gear Strive ($2,500)
  • Mortal Kombat 1 ($2,500)
  • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate – Doubles ($1,000)

For the first time, DreamHack will also host competitions in Tekken 8 and Street Fighter 6, which include the chance to qualify for Esports World Cup. Both tournaments offer $50,000 in prizing each, as well as pipelines to compete on some of the titles’ biggest stages in Riyadh this summer.

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eSports

Zenni Optical Announces Partnership with ESL FACEIT Group (EFG)

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Zenni Optical, the world’s leading online eyewear retailer, announced a partnership with ESL FACEIT Group (EFG), the leading esports and video game entertainment company. Designed to integrate eye health education with innovative eyewear solutions for the esports community, the partnership will officially launch at DreamHack festival in Dallas, taking place from May 31 to June 2.

This collaboration will showcase a co-branded collection of lifestyle and competitive eyewear and accessories, highlighting Zenni Optical’s commitment to promoting overall eye health, particularly in addressing issues like eye fatigue and strain. Additionally, the initiative will incorporate essential eye health education across various DreamHack Festivals, in alignment with EFG’s broader mission to foster inclusive gaming worlds and engaged, supported communities.

“DreamHack and ESL represent some of the most community-centric and prestigious competitive events in the world. In their own unique ways, they embody esports for everyone. By partnering with these incredible brands across the gaming and esports spaces, we aim to create engaging experiences that combine eye-health education with innovative eyewear solutions for players and fans at all levels,” said Robb Chiarini, Head of Gaming, Sports, & Events at Zenni Optical.

“We are thrilled to partner with Zenni Optical as the Official Eyewear Partner of DreamHack and ESL. The genuine passion that Zenni has for the esports industry is a refreshing sight to see, and a major driving factor for the decision behind our partnership. Zenni’s ongoing commitment to provide eyewear for everyone mirrors our own drive to create worlds beyond gameplay for gamers everywhere,” Craig Levine, Co-CEO at EFG, said.

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eSports

CREAM CITY CONVERGENCE ESPORTS TOURNAMENT SELECTED AS CAPCOM PRO TOUR EVENT

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Bucks Gaming’s Cream City Convergence Esports Tournament has been selected as a Capcom Pro Tour event, becoming one of just three tournaments in North America chosen to be a qualifier for the prestigious Capcom Cup.

The Capcom Cup is an annual Street Fighter 6 competition, hosted by video game developer and esports organizer Capcom, with a $1 million first place prize. Each year, Capcom selects a small number of tournaments worldwide to serve as Capcom Pro Tour events, with the winning players from each event qualifying for the Capcom Cup. As one of the tournaments selected by Capcom for the honor this year, Cream City Convergence will become the first esports event run by an NBA team to work with a major esports organizer.

Top-ranked Street Fighter 6 players will compete at Cream City Convergence when it returns for its second year on Saturday, Aug. 24, at Baird Center. In addition to Street Fighter 6, this year’s tournament will also have brackets for Tekken 8; Super Smash Bros Ultimate; Super Smash Bros Melee; and Guilty Gear: Strive.

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