A national trend, Esports teams are appearing on college campuses in record numbers.
In a sign of the increasingly digital times, North Park will launch electronic sports (Esports) next fall as a coed varsity sport.
Esports, which essentially turns video games into a spectator sport, has multiple players compete against each other in various online games. The sport has been embraced by many colleges and universities, including fellow CCIW members Illinois Wesleyan University and Carthage College. Local universities DePaul, Northwestern, and Olivet Nazarene also have teams. “What I really want to promote most heavily with Esports is the level of cooperation and camaraderie you can form by being on a team,” said Esports Varsity Coach Peter Casella. “I want people to understand the friendships you can make playing a sport.”
It’s a ground-breaking movement taking place across the country, and North Park wants to be on the leading edge.—Peter Casella, Esports Coach
Casella, who has big recruitment plans for the team, has already reached out to current students and plans to cast a wider net to include prospective students. He envisions the team participating in tournaments from a small game room with perhaps six PCs and several gaming consoles, such as the PlayStation 5 and Nintendo Switch. The space would also include a lounge area for those waiting to play.
According to projections, Esports is expected to net 29.6 million monthly viewers in 2022, up nearly 12% from 2021. North Park will join the National Association of College Esports, the largest member association of college and university sponsored Esports programs that promotes student education and development through intercollegiate Esports.
Chicago has been a hotspot for Esports for many years, with Chicago hosting the League Championship Series for high level League of Legends players this fall. “It’s a very competitive region,” Casella said, “something that puts North Park in an advantageous position.”
“It’s a ground-breaking movement taking place across the country, and North Park wants to be on the leading edge,” he said.