Baylor needs to get in the game—the esports game

By John Holt | Contributor

Esports is one of the fastest growing industries in the world, and many universities are taking the opportunity to invest in its future. However, Baylor is not one of them.

Almost every university and even some high schools are starting up esports programs and clubs. Baylor is no different. We have an esports club called Oso Esports. The club was started in 2017 by Samuel Lin. It is completely student run, and the only support it really has from Baylor is the ability to compete under the Baylor University name. The difference between Baylor and other universities like UNT is that UNT has an actual esports program.

Universities like UNT can attract talent and support staff easily with their scholarship program. This has allowed them to be at the top of Texas collegiate esports for the past couple of years. Baylor, while having some decent showings at some tournaments, struggles to attract talent. It is already at a disadvantage being a private university, so the talent pool is already less than other schools like Texas and Texas A&M. There needs to be an incentive to make Baylor look more appealing for potential talent. It also serves as an opportunity for Baylor to use gaming as a means to increase student enrollment and engagement with how popular it has become.

There is a misconception when talking about esports where people only think about the players. However, there is so much more that goes into esports. Inside of esports, there are plenty of opportunities for many different careers. People who enjoy organizing large events can become tournament organizers. People can become commentators and analysts for broadcast teams. You have people behind the scenes working the broadcast too. There are so many opportunities in this space that people forget about. With Baylor’s support, we could help facilitate growth for the scene in all areas, even providing students the opportunity to get broadcast experience for those who are interested in the field.

Like everything else, COVID-19 put a damper on esports. While esports are able to function without in-person events, it takes a lot of the fun and cost out of it. In-person Local Area Network events are what everyone looks forward to. The roar of the crowd, the vibration from the amps and the raw excitement make for unforgettable moments. Whether you are on the stage or in the crowd, the energy created and felt is crazy.

One of my best memories was going to the first Overwatch League Homestand in Dallas in 2019. I still get chills thinking about it. While these events are a lot of fun, they are also very expensive. With COVID-19, these events are not possible, forcing all events to be online. This causes the cost to put on events to decrease, which also makes it the best time to get into running tournaments. In fact, the cost of entering esports as a whole has gone down as a result. You do not have to worry about travel and food expenses. Everyone is playing from home, so you do not have to worry about providing setups either. If there was a time to enter the space, it would be better to pull the trigger sooner rather than later.

John is a junior film and digital media major from Dallas.