UWG Wolves Esports expanded their repertoire beyond League of Legends (LoL) with Overwatch 2 and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
“Those three games are what we [were] running tryouts for,” said Joseph Lee, UWG’s Esports coach. “We did want to consider Valorant, but that is more up in the air based upon student interest as well as talent. For now, I can say in confidence: League of Legends team, Overwatch team, and Super Smash Bros Ultimate team.”
Tryouts were held Aug. 25 through 28 for all three games and received over forty applications.
Last semester, the LoL Varsity teams competed for the first time at the Peach Belt Conference (PBC), a university sports-centered competition that includes Baseball, Tennis, Basketball, and a few other sports. PBC invites colleges throughout the “Peach Belt,” including Georgia colleges like the University of North Georgia and Augusta University, South Carolina universities like USC Beaufort, and even Flagler College in Florida, among other colleges.
“[The LoL team] went to the championship, and one of our players— Colin Chambers, who goes by Lin Vale in game, was ranked number three in Support,” said Lee.
“I think Esports are starting to get big because you have major professional [Esports] teams partnering with colleges. For example, you have SK Telecom T1— one of the biggest South Korean LoL teams, they partner with Penn State,” said Lee. “We got partnered with the Atlanta Hawks and the Night Talon GC— their NBA 2K professional team.”
The increasing popularity of gaming and Esports brings a new wave of monetary value both in entertainment and education.
“ESports is generating 1.8 billion dollar revenue, and that’s projected to go up to 2.5 billion revenue by 2026,” said Lee. “In terms of viewership, it surpasses both major league baseball as well as basketball. Esports is around 84 million, and MLB is 79 million, and NBA is at 63 million.”
Participating in Esports, much like other sports, now provides students with scholarships and financial opportunities. For instance, the Nexus certification sponsored through Skillshot Media and Georgia Film Academy, awards scholarships to Sports Management majors.
“Students who were part of the Esports program through the Esports club, the African American Gamers United club, or Esports and Business Management were picked to go to State Farm Arena, where they got a behind-the-scenes tour to see production and management and to see the actual courts with front row seats in addition to the NBA 2K practice facility,” said Lee.
The Living Learning Community (LLC), the Esports dorm on campus also had students who went to the event and participated in the Wolves Esports community.
UWG and the Esports facility offer several Esports centered courses and extracurriculars involving marketing, programming, and sports management.
“For example, with Dr. Jang and Dr. Lee’s esports course, they actually use Minecraft Education edition to be able to conduct research here with several other students,” said Lee.
In this regard, Esports is not classified under athletics but under Academic Affairs.
While tryouts have ended, Lee states that they are willing to welcome in new players through an individual skill test before September, which is the registration deadline.
“We work with WOLF Radio, they do casting for us,” said Lee. “So students who have interest and students who don’t make it into varsity but want to share their knowledge, they can go to WOLF Radio and help cast for us.”
The casters were able to attend PBC and receive mentoring and coaching from Esports professionals, including Stephen “Returned” Johnson, among others.
The community can support the Esports team on twitch or follow them on Twitter and Instagram at @WolvesEsports.