And now where's we get to some serious numbers.
“But James, China has a huge population compared to any of the other regions!”
Sure, but a higher percentage of the China and Taiwan population are engaged in competitive collegiate eSports.
So why is this?
It’s actually a really simple reason: Tencent and Garena use a different competitive and community-building system; they have created competitive ladders for collegiate eSports. Their methodology gets incredibly invasive, requiring every student to send Tencent (China) or Garena (Taiwan) a scanned copy of their student ID card, their major, and proof of enrollment. But in return students will be linked up with students from their school, and matches they play will be recorded as points for their institution.
That last point shouldn't be taken lightly.
There’s a huge sense of national pride and the two Chinese eSports loving students I’ve talked to have said that they enjoy the collegiate ladder, although they recognize that their own schools will never win given that other universities like Minjiang University will more than likely consistently win.
For an unfortunate sports analogy, it's like still caring about the NCAA Tournament event though you go to a Division II school that has 0 chance of making the big dance.
This ladder system is a way to easily affiliate with one’s school and feel like your part of the community while contributing to your school’s competitive identify. You don’t have to be the best player, but you have to be an A player.
Such a system hasn’t been tested in North America or Europe, but could very well be a way to help grow collegiate eSports. The closest we’ve come is the Clubs system in League of Legends, but there are issues with that as well that I'll cover in a future article.
After University of Toronto got taken down 2-0 by China's Haikou College of Economics last week we're certainly going to need a boost in order to win next year. Whether that be a direct community integration into the game client, improvements in collegiate recruiting, or the creation and expansion of the best collegiate eSports programs in the world- we'll need something.
SO WHAT NOW?
Asia clearly has a dominant lead AND with Asian eSports investment easily exceeding $1B+ this year, the US has a lot of catching to do. With the rapid growth of US schools providing eSports scholarships and other initiatives, hopefully these are all good signs of starting, let alone improving the infrastructure.