College forming esports team

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Collegiate esports players compete in a varsity "Overwatch" match. Photo via wikimedia.org

Another West Michigan college plans to launch an esports program.

Aquinas College will add a competitive video gaming team this fall, according to the school yesterday.

A new gaming lab on campus will house a practice and competition area. It will be outfitted with modern equipment from iBUYPOWER and furnishings from Michigan-based DXRacer.

Intercollegiate competition will begin this fall for three games: “League of Legends,” “Overwatch” and “Rocket League.”

Aquinas is in the process of hiring a head coach and will begin recruiting a team to compete this fall. Scholarship opportunities will be available.

Nick Davidson, director of athletics at Aquinas, said the college has completed “comprehensive research” and believes it is the right time to offer the program.

“We feel that this is a terrific opportunity for Aquinas College to be on the forefront of the rise of collegiate esports,” Davidson said.

Aquinas will apply for membership to the Kansas City, Missouri-based National Association of Collegiate Esports, or NACE, which has more than 125 member schools and more than 2,800 student-athletes.

Ninety-four percent of all varsity esports programs in the U.S. are members of NACE. Other Michigan colleges recognized by the association include Davenport, Siena Heights, Northwood and Alma.

Western Michigan University launched a club-level esports program last fall. Davenport plans to launch a varsity program this fall.

Esports games rely on real-time strategy, teamwork, mental agility and multi-player online battles, Aquinas said.

The management consulting company Deloitte projected the esports industry will be worth $1.5 billion and have 600 million fans by 2020.

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