Established just last year, the University of Mississippi’s eSports club will begin competing against teams from other colleges and universities this year.
The club, founded in January 2017, was intended to create a community for gamers on campus in which they could play and compete together, according to club president Cray Pennison.
“When I first came to Ole Miss, I was looking for a team to play the video game League of Legends competitively — something a lot of other colleges had,” Pennison said. “When I found out that no such team existed, I decided to start my own, which ended up expanding (its focus) to multiple video games, and the eSports club was born.”
This year, the 200-member club will establish 10 separate teams that will compete in intercollegiate events this semester.
“Most teams will be playing in standard competitive leagues hosted by any number of companies,” Pennison said. “But a few teams will have the opportunity to be invited to an event that lasts a weekend and compete against schools there for prizes.”
Pennison said not all members of the club will compete, and the club still welcomes students looking to play for fun.
“It was started with a competitive side, where teams enter into tournaments and leagues, as well as a community side, where those who just want new friends on campus to play games with have the opportunity to (do so),” Pennison said.
As of March 2018, about 50 varsity eSports teams exist in colleges and universities across the country, according to ESPN.
Over the summer, the UM Division of Outreach sent out a survey to gauge interest in eSports that read, “The university is looking at ways it can further support eSports and gaming enthusiasts.”
“The university is interested in expanding the recreational eSport activities on campus and, eventually, expanding these activities to include a regular, competitive eSports program,” Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Noel Wilkin said. “Our efforts are being supported by people in student affairs, academic affairs, athletics and other groups on campus.”