On college campuses, on sports channels, and even in stock markets, eSports teams are turning heads. Within the past few years, eSports has become a multi-million dollar industry. This year, more than 32 million people worldwide watched the League of Legends World Championship. Over 2018, that championship had a combined prize pool worth more than $12 Million. With so much buzz, it is no wonder colleges across the united states and around the world are adding eSports to their athletics line-up.

By fall 2019, Patrick Henry Community College plans to join the growing movement and launch its own eSports team. With a generous sponsorship from Mid-Atlantic Broadband, the college is creating a state-of-the-art eSports gaming arena which will be unveiled at an open house on February 6.

Interested students and future students are invited to the eSports Gaming Arena Open House on Wednesday, February 6 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. in West Hall room 215. The arena is furnished with seven Alienware Aurora R7 computers, 25-inch monitors that have an average 200mhrz refresh rate, as well as many other gaming equipment essentials. At the open house, prospective gamers will have a chance to test the equipment and their gaming skills.

To kick start the eSports team, PHCC is starting as an eSports club this spring that will begin competing in tournaments by late February. The club voted to start competing with the game Overwatch, but the members want to add teams for Fortnite, League of Legends, iRacing, and a few sports-related games as well. By Fall 2019, PHCC hopes to be a part of the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE) to offer PC gaming as a varsity sport.

“ESports has emerged as a major competitive event at the collegiate level,” PHCC Athletic Director Brian Henderson said. “We want to offer our students an opportunity to actively engage in this emerging field.”

Two students, Taylor Toler and Cody Meadows, are spearheading the eSports efforts at the college. As the club’s co-captains, they have both been heavily involved with the design of the gaming arena and structure of the eSports program.

As a captain, Toler says his “number one goal is to help you move to the next level – whether that is to join a university’s team or to get signed to a professional team.”

Already, some of the initial members of PHCC’s eSports team have been offered scholarships from universities and invitations to join professional teams. According to Toler, a professional gamer’s salary may average between $80,000 and $120,000 a year – in addition to any tournament winnings. Apart from professional gaming, eSports can also be a door to a variety of technology-related careers.

To be eligible to compete on the Fall Varsity team, eSports student-athletes must be enrolled in 12 credit hours and maintain a 2.5 grade point average. PHCC also plans to create club teams for interested high school students. For more information or to request the try-out schedule, email PHCC’s Athletic Director Brian Henderson at bhenderson@patrickhenry.edu.