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July 26, 2020 9:10 PM

Athletics to launch esports team

The Conestoga Condors will play in the new Ontario Post-Secondary Esports (OPSE) league. Open to students at colleges and universities across the province, the new league hopes to integrate collegiate esports into traditional post-secondary athletics.

“We’ve been talking about launching esports for a few years and with our fall varsity season suspended, the timing seemed right,” said Kristen Bolliger, assistant manager, Recreation & Performance. “This is a first step in connecting with gamers and we’re collaborating with Student Affairs, Academics and CSI to really develop an esports community to connect with a different type of student. We have long-term goals of this community and avenue growing, but first we have to explore Conestoga students’ interest in competitive esports.”

No longer just a hobby, esports has turned into a multi-billion-dollar industry with global revenues expected to reach nearly $1.8 billion by 2022. The industry has also started to see the emergence of traditional leagues that are drawing significant viewership numbers.

“Traditionally, athletes are judged on physical skill and talent, but these students want to be recognized for their expertise in their area so we’re looking at expanding what it means to be a student athlete,” added Bolliger. “Gamers are aware of the negative connotations and stigma around their games and the idea of them being viewed as traditional athletes. What they hope is that others will recognize the time they invest in the game in order to be really good at it - it’s not something a lot of people understand. It’s the expertise they bring to their game. To excel at basketball, you have to know the game and you have to be able to anticipate play and know what your teammates are thinking - that is very much the same for an esports athlete. They have to excel at the game to be able to anticipate plays and to read their teammates.”

Student applications for Conestoga’s esports team are open until July 29. Tryouts will take place in August and September and the season will run October to February, with playoffs in March. The OPSE league offers four esports titles: League of Legends, Rocket League, Overwatch and Hearthstone. Over the next few weeks, the Condors will measure student interest to decide which titles they will compete in.

OPSE has announced that scholarship money totalling $24,000 will be available to teams finishing the season in first place.

Visit Athletics for more information.

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