2017 Collegiate eSports Report


Blizzard's College eSports Documentary (Photo: Blizzard)

TNL Take: One of the first major eSports opportunities that I analyzed was the Collegiate space.

In fact, way back in The Next Level 008 in May, I looked at the various verticals in this area.

Just like all aspects of eSports, in the last 5 months this space has grown just as quickly.

I'm going to revisit some of my earlier themes and look and what's happened to College eSports in such a short period.



TNL Infographic 010: Total US Schools With eSports Scholarships (Graphic: The Next Level)

TNL Take: What started with just Robert Morris University in 2014 has now grown to 15 Schools in 2016 that have announced eSports scholarships programs that have either started or in process to begin for the 2017 school year.

The hockey stick like growth correlates almost exactly with the investment of Pro Sports teams within eSports as well.

In May, the total was 9 schools with ~120 Max Scholarships - excuse the horrible original graphic.

Colleges With eSports Scholarships In May 2016 (Graphic: The Next Level 008)

Now look at this change in less than half a year.



15 US Schools Offering eSports Scholarships

15 US Schools Offering eSports Scholarships

TNL Take: Top takeaways from the new data:

  • The total number of schools giving monetary scholarships for eSports has almost doubled from 9 to 15


  • The maximum number of scholarships available has almost tripled from 120 to ~300 (Note: While these scholarships are available, schools will more than likely not fill all the spots due to recruiting issues. Yes, recruiting issues in eSports already.)



TNL Take: You can take the power of the Publishers in eSports and apply it across the board. 

For a long time, just as Publishers let Pro eSports provide them with Free Marketing, the same applied to the Collegiate space.

Now that serious money has entered eSports, those days are over.

Here are two examples of where Publishers have flexed their muscles:


Here's what I said back in May The Next Level 008:

"If I’m Riot, I double-down on this opportunity to work growing this scene even further. From their investment in ULoL, working with colleges directly, and supporting local University Cal Irvine, they seem to be heading in this direction."

I'm hoping that someone at Riot actually listened.

When you're in the Church of Content, the Priest is the Publisher.



Newegg College eSports Sponsorship (Photo: Newegg)

TNL Take: The next massive opportunity within Collegiate eSports is connecting Brands to a core audience of 18-22 year olds; right when they begin to earn money and spend it more freely.

Again in May, I spoke about Robert Morris University leading the Collegiate eSports initiative and where Brands like Quest Nutrition could benefit from this audience.

Guess what happened two months ago?

Quest Nutrition and RMU eSports Partnership (Photo: Quest)

Many more Brands have noticed the Collegiate eSports audience:


TNL eSports Brand Tracker 044 (Photo: Battlefy)

Although I focus on Non-Endemic Brands within eSports, a huge congrats to iBUYPOWER for helping to support the Collegiate eSports efforts.

Not only did they support RMU's initial eSports endeavor, they are also sponsoring the first public US School with an eSports Scholarship program, UC Irvine.

iBUYPOWER UC Irvine eSports Arena (Photo: UC Irvine)



NRG eSports Recruiting Partnership With Gamer Sensei (Photo: Gamer Sensei)

TNL Take: I absolutely believe in the coaching opportunity for eSports - I just haven't solved it yet.  

With the same progression of traditional Sports through Junior Leagues, High School, Colleges and then Professional Leagues, you can see eSports take the same route.

In my May articles, I mentioned both Dojo Madness and Xsolla, training and coaching Apps that help players turn into Athletes.

If a local Tennis or Golf Pro can have clients, eSports can't for the next decade?

It's going to happen somehow.

I'm a big fan of quotes because I believe someone long ago and  a lot smarter than me already succinctly said what I could have.

Albert Szent-Györgyi was a Hungarian American physiologist who won the Nobel Prize in 1937 is credited with discovering vitamin C. He said the following:

"Research is to see what everybody else has seen, and think what nobody has thought.Genius is seeing what everyone else sees and thinking what no one else has thought.

Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought.The task is, not so much to see what no one has seen yet; but to think what nobody has thought yet, about what everybody sees."

Pro eSports starts with High Schools and Colleges.


Lets all build it.


Big thanks and huge help from James Kozachuk (@InternallyValid) for his work and dedication to the space. We need more people like James in this space. Someone please hire him....or I will soon.