UArizona Launches Esports Program
University of Arizona News published a story covering the University's new varsity esports program.
The University of Arizona will have the state's first esports team for a public university, along with a program to immerse students in every facet of competitive multiplayer video gaming for potential careers in the multibillion-dollar industry.
Arizona Esports launched earlier this month. Its leaders expect competition against teams across the nation and other universities to begin sometime in the fall.
Competitive video-game play has surged in popularity in recent years. The industry now draws millions of online viewers through streaming platforms such as Twitch, where fans watch teams battle it out onscreen in games such as League of Legends, Rocket League or Overwatch.
Although in-person sporting events have been on hold, esports has proven particularly lucrative in a year when the pandemic turned everything virtual – and that was how the idea for the UArizona program came about, said Walter Ries, the program's interim director and a principal information technology manager for University Information Technology Services.
"A lot of the traditional sports programs were being canceled due to physical contact during the pandemic," Ries said. "In many sports, teams have to get on the same field, whereas esports are virtual, so they could still go on, even during COVID."