Esports scholarships available for varsity competitors

Fisher Seigler

Midwestern State University has begun offering esports scholarships for those who compete in varsity-level esports. The scholarship amount depends on player skill level and is given on a semester-by-semester basis.  

Esports is one of the fastest-growing sports among college students in the United States, according to the 2021 MSU financial report. The report cites esports as “a recruiting and retention tool for the university.” The report also said the university will launch “a new residential esports learning community in one of its residence halls” and “a fully equipped lounge for gaming and competition.”

Assistant director at the counseling center Zach Zoet, the expert on all things esports at MSU, said there is varsity support for the games Rocket League and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Those who compete at the collegiate level and meet team requirements are eligible for scholarships. Apex Legends is also offered but has no varsity support.

Zoet said, “These titles were chosen because we have a high population of native talent in these titles presently, and this talent is able to presently compete at the highest collegiate level. If we develop our other titles’ talent pools, they may also be able to move to the varsity level but we can only support a varsity team with paid coaching, scholarships, jerseys, entry into leagues, et cetera, if that team is going to be able to represent MSU Texas at the highest level of collegiate competition reliably.”

Requirements for the esports Scholarship include maintaining a minimum GPA of 2.0, competing exclusively with the MSU esports team, keeping a gaming account free from disciplinary actions, and attending, as well as competing in, open tryouts for either Rocket League or Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Zoet said the scholarship can be extended after a player attends tryouts and is offered a starting position on the varsity roster.

As for maintaining the scholarship, Zoet said, “Once a student earns a scholarship, [the scholarship] can’t be rescinded. However if their performance or eligibility on any of the requirements slumps, they may not be on the varsity squad for the title the following semester, which means they won’t get the scholarship any longer.”

Computer science freshman Paul Brown earned an esports scholarship playing varsity-level Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Brown has played previous releases of Smash since he could hold a controller and started playing competitively in 2019.

Brown said, “Since it was a fairly new program, it’s really helpful. But since we’re new, we’re just getting a feel for how the gaming club and esports goes. It wasn’t super hard to get into since everyone’s new to this. But I am grateful, and it does help a lot.”

As of this article’s publishing, there are around 30 members competing in MSU esports. Zoet said efforts are made to involve “marketable skills outside of playing in the games” in the form of coaching, team management and broadcast support.

For additional information regarding esports, the esports scholarship, or MSU’s gaming community, join the MSU TX Esports and Gaming Discord server or send an email to [email protected].