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eSports Scholarships Guide for Gamers

Trying to learn more about eSports scholarships? This guide will help you learn about the differences in eSports between college vs university.

Apr 12, 2024
  • Student Tips
eSports scholarships

What are eSports?

eSports is the shortened term for "electronic sports", the form of playing video games in an organized, competitive, and professional context.

Like traditional sports, they often consist of team-based games requiring cooperation and good communication skills, the biggest difference being that eSports are played in a virtual environment as opposed to a field or court.

While relatively new when compared to more established sports, eSports are quickly becoming a profitable industry for ambitious gamers and universities are recognizing this, providing collegiate-level programs to recruit student-athletes.

Examples of some of the largest eSports are:

  • League of Legends (LoL)
  • Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS: GO)
  • Valorant
  • Rocket League
  • Player Unknown's BattleGrounds (PUBG)
  • Fortnite
  • Rainbow Six Siege
  • Apex Legends
  • Call of Duty (COD)
  • Dota 2

How big are eSports?

With a valuation of USD 1.72 billion in 2023, competitive gaming is a lucrative industry that is only growing. For example, estimated valuations go over USD 9.29 billion by 2032. ESports viewership is another massive statistic, growing by incredible margins every year. According to a report by Newzoo, there was a total viewership of 532 million people for eSports in 2022, with a projected growth of 8% by 2025, surpassing 640 million viewers in total.

An important takeaway here for you is the value in scholarships provided by the National Association of Collegiate eSports (NACE), which provides USD 16 million worth in eSports scholarships. NACE is dedicated to helping students find ways to pursue esports throughout college or university and is a useful resource for anyone in the US looking to pursue esports and higher education.

How to start pursuing eSports

To begin your journey through competitive gaming, you need to:

  • Have the right equipment
  • Pick a game

Step 1: Have a decent gaming setup

The most popular eSports require either a serviceable gaming PC, console, or smartphone depending on the game you decide to play.

It can also help to have streaming equipment, like a webcam and microphone to help increase your presence online, improving your odds of getting noticed by recruiters and university teams.

Step 2: Become great at the game you chose

Most eSports games have a “ranked” mode where players play competitively to increase their status within an in-game ranking system.

You can play this game-mode to get a clear representation of your skill level and learn to improve, not just for self-motivation, but also to illustrate your ability and performance within your game of choice.

Many universities will check your in-game rank to get a general idea of your performance, so do your best to keep your rank within the top-scoring positions.

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How to find Sports scholarships

With $16 million worth of scholarships and student aid available, it can be difficult to navigate the logistics around actually obtaining a scholarship. In this way college and university esports are the same; both offer eSports scholarships of great value if you’re able to demonstrate skill and expertise in your game of choice. However, unlike preparation for academic scholarships, it greatly benefits you to create a brand for yourself through media production to increase your odds of getting noticed.

Where can you find eSports scholarships?

NACE Sports

A good place to start looking for eSports scholarships is the National Association of Collegiate eSports, where you can select your game of choice and find schools offering scholarships related to your game, as well as what divisions the school’s team will be performing in.

Keystone Sports

If you're an international student interested in pursuing studies on an eSports scholarship, you can take the free Keystone Sports test to see if you're eligible for any scholarships or programs they offer!

Your state eSport division

If you’re in the US, it is likely your state has their own eSports division for relatively local tournaments. Engaging with these programs is a great way to network with school representatives, and you can be sure you’ll receive emails from colleges and universities alike if recruiters find you qualified for tryouts.

Through your university

But the best way to find an eSports scholarship is by finding schools you want to attend, looking into their eSports programs, and connecting with one of the school eSports coaches directly through email. This helps show your interest in being part of their school team, and your coach can vouch for you in the application process. Networking is always the best way to learn more about programs or sports you’re interested in, even outside of eSports.

How to apply for an eSports scholarship

How to qualify for eSports scholarships

Meet the academic requirements

The most important thing to keep in mind when applying for a scholarship is keeping track of your academic performance. Many scholarships require:

  • a minimum GPA
  • completion of specific courses
  • minimum credit requirement

While your scholarship is related to sports, it is still vital to concentrate on keeping up your skill in academics in addition to gaming.

Showcase your athletic and teamwork skills

Alongside academic requirements, your athletic performance is also crucial to your ability in acquiring a scholarship. Most coaches will run tryouts for prospective students, gauging your skill-level and comparing you to your peers.

While it may seem productive to keep up traditional practice and developing technical skills, it is also important to demonstrate your capacity for teamwork and strategical thinking. Participating in scrimmage exercises is a great way to gain experience in forming complex strategies and developing team-building skills.

Build a brand using social media

Another way you can display your expertise is by building a name for yourself online as a content creator. Many coaches will look for any social media accounts you have to see your performance in-game, so showcasing your gameplay on your profile can help coaches get an idea of your skill level before they meet you.

Some popular platforms you can use to post your gameplay are:

  • Twitch
  • YouTube
  • TikTok
  • Instagram
  • Medal

Tips and additional resources for getting eSports scholarships

There are many valuable resources available to help you learn more about getting a career in eSports. Keep working on improving your gameplay, by practicing and finding tips online, but also pay attention to changes in the industry to help you research different esports careers. You can find a list of resources and advice for those looking to enter a field of professional gaming below.

  • Start early: With the average age of pro eSports athletes being within 21-25 years old, it can be useful to start early. There are a multitude of high school eSports leagues to enter competitions while you’re still in high school.
  • Stay healthy: Pay attention to possible health risks associated with the sport you’re playing, even in eSports. eSports Healthcare has a guide to help you identify possible hazards so you can take appropriate precautions.
  • Find sponsorships: An additional solution to funding your career is through sponsorships. You can find information on eSports sponsorships via LinkedIn eSports.
  • Form a reputation: Tournaments are a great way to increase your online presence, making it easier to develop a name for yourself in the eSports world.
  • Stay relevant: Keep your online presence up to date. Coaches don’t want to see year-old clips, so try to regularly post your gameplay to keep any scouts or schools in the loop on your most recent achievements.
  • Buy second hand equipment: A gaming setup can be expensive, and streaming equipment can increase those costs as well. You can find used equipment online for good quality and price through websites like BestBuy, Newegg, or even Facebook Marketplace.

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