Wisconsin Colleges Forming Varsity Esports Programs

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Wisconsin will have at least three more college esports programs when the 2020 fall semester begins.

Carroll University and Lakeland University both announced this semester that they are forming competitive esports teams, while the University of Wisconsin-Stout has already been developing a varsity esports program. They will join the 170-plus members of the National Association of Collegiate Esports.

"Competitive gaming is one of the nation's fastest growing activities, and Lakeland is excited to formally add a team to our athletic department," Lakeland Vice President for Campus Life David Simon, Jr. said in the university’s press release. "The timing is right for Lakeland to join the growing number of colleges and high schools who are adding competitive eSports and to expand eSports opportunities for all our students."

Lakeland, a liberal arts college in Plymouth, will turn an existing 3,000-square-foot space on its campus into an esports arena that will feature 18 gaming stations, six consoles, a lounge and space for spectators. The university wants to get everyone involved, making the facility available to all Lakeland students during designated hours for intramural programs and individual use.

“We didn’t want to make it exclusive just to the esports varsity team,” Lakeland’s director of external relations David Gallianetti said, according to Wisconsin Public Radio. “We want it to be inclusive to all of our students.”

Lakeland already has an esports club with more than 30 students. Gallianetti told Wisconsin Public Radio that more than 700 prospective Lakeland students had identified esports as the sport they’re most interested in.

"We will be stressing with all students the benefits of involvement in eSports including improvement in communication, teamwork, social and analytical skills, self-evaluation, critical thinking, determination and mental toughness," Simon said. "We know that a large segment of students in this generation identify themselves as gamers and they're enjoying our club and playing these games in their rooms. Between our varsity team and the opportunity for other students to use our new arena, we know this facility is going to be a popular spot.”

Carroll is also creating an esports area that will be located next to the Campus Center, according to the Milwaukee Business Journal. The Waukesha university has hired head coach Joe Loomis.

“Intramural leagues and tournaments will allow students to test and hone their skills in an exciting, supportive environment, and they can potentially make their way to our competitive varsity team,” Loomis said when the program was announced.

The NACE currently has a fall and spring season with games like League of Legends, Overwatch, Paladins, Rocket League, Smite, Fortnite, CSGO and Super Smash Brothers Ultimate.

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