Preparing to be a US College Esports Player


Find Your Motivation 

As with anything in life, it’s important to play college Esports for the right reasons. In the long run, positive motivations are what keep student and players engaged. For college esports players this means a combination of education, and the chance to play, and compete, in top-ranked tournaments.

Pick Your Game

The next step is to find your game. The value of picking a game that’s established as a college Esport is that the infrastructure and resources are already in place to support your college career. Longstanding Esports titles like League of LegendsDota 2, and CounterStrike: Global Offensive (CS:GO), for example, have large, dedicated player bases and, by extension, sponsored tournaments, college scholarships and strong support from the esports community and from the college system.

Join the Community

As much as college gaming is about individual talent, it’s also about the culture surrounding the game. Before investing too much time learning the nuts and bolts of a specific game, spend some time on forums and other places where players congregate. The experience will provide a better indication of the path ahead, and you’ll be able to judge if the college player journey aligns with your personal goals and motivations.

Gear Up 

Make sure you’re playing on the right gear, starting with a good gaming mouse, and mechanical keyboard. There are a lot of options when it comes to peripherals — varying in size, form factor, and sensitivity — but it’s best to choose the one that works for you. 


If you want to play college esports, you’ll need to practice.

First, master the game’s mechanics. Concentrate on learning game-specific skills until they become ingrained in your muscle memory. Whether that’s last-hitting in a MOBA, aiming with accuracy in an FPS, or maximizing actions-per-minute in an RTS, these skills never lose their importance. 

The best college players, and pro players too, practice mechanics tirelessly to stay sharp and make minute improvements, but players who are just starting out should improve dramatically with practice.

Climb the Ladder

If you want to be a college varsity esports player, it takes a strong desire to win at every phase of competition. This means topping the scoreboard in pick-up groups, climbing the ladder in matchmaking, and being the last team standing in tournaments.

Familiarize yourself with the hierarchy of the levels of competition, as each Esport has its own system in place for bringing new players into the fold. In CS:GO, for example, a player typically progresses from public games to matchmaking and then on to leagues and tournaments. There will be different trajectories for different Esports.

Climbing the ladder allows young players to make a name for themselves. This can help them find a spot on an amateur team, which in turn can be a stepping stone to getting recruited to a good college team.

Find a Team 

Once you build a reputation as a serious competitor, find a team. Playing alongside others — especially those who are better than you, or who have different skill sets — is one of the most valuable experiences a player can have.

Learning to play well with others is required for team-based games like CS:GO and Dota 2. So find a role that you like and a group of players that you gel with. But even for solo games like Hearthstone or StarCraft 2, there’s value in connecting with a like-minded sub-community.

Compete and Get Noticed 

Getting good at the game is only half the battle. The other half is making connections that will help you ascend the competitive ladder. Once you’ve found your footing in more competitive lobbies, start networking. 

Stay Balanced 

Don’t forget your academics.   Stay focused on school and your grades.  Keep improving your English skills too.   While the grind mentality looms large in Esports, prospective college players must learn how to balance their practice regimen and academic studies

Next Post
In our next post we’ll introduce you the NACE, the National Association of Collegiate Esports.  NACE is the primary governing body for college esports in the United States.

About ACA
ACA is an Asian-based sports and esports consultancy that guides student athletes and their families through the complexities of the US college recruiting process. We help promote students to all colleges in the U.S. that have esports teams.  We assist families and their esports athletes through every step of the process from putting together a profile and academic history all the way through to college application and visa requirements.

Esports US College

“Careers in Esports – Your New College Major”

Dozens of U.S. colleges have offered varsity level esports competitions for years, and now some schools are taking it a step further by adding courses as the industry’s boom drives demand for professionals who know how to, for example, organize esports tournaments.

There are a surprising number of career paths that could stem from esports. At Georgia State University, 200 people recently joined a new esports club, but the majority didn’t want to be professional players — they wanted to get involved in announcing, marketing or production of esports events.

It’s important to know that an esports career can be more, much more, than playing video games.  Just because the professional gamer status might be difficult to achieve, it doesn’t mean that a player can’t pursue other interests that are related to esports. Other job options include technical gaming careers such as video game designer, software developer, animation engineer, and more. Other Esports career options include event production, marketing, market research, and sales.

Seven colleges in America now offer esports courses, including the option to major in esports.  This list includes a number of prestigious institutions such as Ohio State University. 

Jason Chung, an assistant professor of Esports Management and executive director of Esports at the University of New Haven’s College of Business, says that as the industry continues to grow there are plenty of other ways to be involved.  There’s esports marketing, business management and game development. Players need physical therapists, trainers, coaches and team managers, just like professional sports teams do in the NBA (National Basketball Association) and in MLB (Major League Baseball).

Becker College, in Massachusetts, U.S.A. formally launched its Bachelor of Science in esports management in October of 2019, after an initial “soft release” in 2018.  “It’s no longer kids playing games in their basement,” said Alan Ritacco, dean of Becker College’s School of Design and Technology. 

Mark Koski, the chief executive of the National Federation of State High School Associations, which livestreams high school events, said that: “I visited a couple of game publishers.” “They had 650 employees, and they were paying an average of US$75,000 salaries.”

But these programs are about more than just the game; they offer students and players a myriad of skills through these programs in terms of networking, event production, and brand management. Jennifer Frank, the Student Director of Varsity Esports at Miami University of Ohio describes how, on top of scholarship opportunities, the Miami University of Ohio program now offers an Undergraduate Certificate in Esports Management; and that an Esports Management Graduate Degree may not be far off.

“Esports companies everywhere are starved for people who understand the makings of the game and its players, and anyone over the age of 30 don’t know the game, while people beneath the age of 18 don’t have the experience.” says Frank. “People between the ages of 18 and 25 are the prime target for new employees in this career path, because they not only grew up alongside esports, but also had the education and experience to go with it” according to Frank.

Next Post

In our next post our partners in the U.S. at CERD (Collegiate Esports Recruitment Directory) will talk about how a high school esports player can go about preparing for recruitment to a college esports team.

About ACA
ACA is an Asian-based sports and esports consultancy that guides student athletes and their families through the complexities of the US college recruiting process. We help promote students to all colleges in the U.S. that have esports teams.  We assist families and their esports athletes through every step of the process from putting together a profile and academic history all the way through to college application and visa requirements.

The U.S. College Esports Scene



Everybody knows that esports are a huge, huge business.  Over the past five years, it’s grown into an estimated US$1.0+ billion industry, with recruiters, coaches, and dedicated arenas, and a global audience of over 400 million people. Now, over 200 US colleges are offering more than $15 million per year in scholarships for the top esports players, and university teams can earn millions more in tournament prizes.

Harrisburg Storm after winning the TESPA National Championship in Overwatch (NACE)

History of College Esports

College esports in the United States began as early as 2009 when the Collegiate Starleague (CSL) was formed as the first official intercollegiate gaming organization in the world, with 25 schools participating in their inaugural competition of the game StarCraft: Brood War, at which the UC Berkeley team took home the victory. Since then CSL has expanded into a variety of games (15 titles in 2019) and it claims to host over 1,800 colleges and universities worldwide with 55,000 cumulative players actively competing in their league.

Smaller four-year colleges were the first to recognize the recruiting and student life potential of esports. Larger universities came next, and now two-year community colleges are establishing esports teams and programs. “They’re the third wave,” said Michael Brooks, executive director of the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE).  NACE is an American collegiate esports association established in 2016.  It currently has over 170 member schools and over 5,000 participating college players. 

Though Fortniteis the most played game among high school players in the United States, League of Legends and Overwatchare the most popular titles for U.S. collegiate esports teams. Both LoLand Overwatch have official college leagues sanctioned by the videogame’s publishers.

Each college fields teams from a number of different game titles, and this can be as few as two or three, but some colleges support up to seven or eight different game teams, including such popular titles as Rocket League, Super Smash Bros., PUBG, Call of Duty, and CS: GO.

Why College?

Among college students in America, 51 percent think being an esports athlete is a viable career option. This is proving to be true: The 2018 League of Legends World Champion­ship attracted more viewers than the Super Bowl and the NCAA Final Four combined.  Viewership is huge, and the expanding esports industry needs educated people to fill the positions needed to keep the business going, and growing.

But, esports athletes attend college in America to study a wide variety of subjects, not just esports. “This is not just about gaming,” said Jeanne Weber, senior higher education strategist at Dell Technologies. “Engaging students in esports can help them build critical thinking skills, encourage teamwork and innovation, and promote self-directed learning,” she said.

Esports Scholarships

Just like athletes from traditional sports, college esports players in America now have access to scholarships.  

According to NCSA, one of the leading esports recruiters in the U.S., esports scholarships are awarded on a school-by-school basis. The majority are partial scholarships and range from US$500 to US$8,000 per year. The average esports scholarship student receives $4,800 in tuition awards a year, according to NACE.

Now though several schools are beginning to offer full-tuition, and even full-ride scholarships. Harrisburg University—which won ESPN’s inaugural Collegiate Esports Championship in May 2019—became the first college esports program to award full ride scholarships to its entire 16-player roster in 2018.

For colleges that have League of Legends, Heathstone, Overwatch and StarCraft II teams, scholarship money comes directly from the developers themselves, not the college.  TESPA, for example, is a network of collegiate esports clubs that partners with Blizzard to provide scholarship opportunities for students who play on a Hearthstone, Overwatch, or StarCraft II team.  Riot Games provides scholarship money directly to colleges that have competitive League of Legends teams.

At the University of California Irvine (UCI), scholarship recipients on varsity Overwatch and League of Legends teams receive USD$6,000, while substitutes and junior varsity players each receive US$1,000 per year.  Additionally, UCI esports recently announced that it will offer US$6,000 scholarships to Super Smash Ultimate players.

college-esports: iBUYPOWER®

In our next post we’ll talk about career opportunities in esports and what U.S. colleges are doing to help students get great jobs in this fast-growing industry.

Grades and Their Influence on College Recruiting


Your grades are a very important part of the college recruiting process.

Athletic ability is a coach’s prime target, but without the grades to support and complement your resume, you could be passed over.  That is the reason that athletes, and their parents must understand the importance of keeping an eye on your grades throughout high school.

The four questions coaches ask

College coaches ask four questions when they discover prospects they may want to recruit:

  1. Can the athlete compete at our level?
  2. Can he or she improve our team?
  3. Will the athlete be admitted to our college and will they be able to stay here?
  4. If so, how much academic money will he or she qualify to receive?

Grades closely trail athleticism

Of course, coaches want to recruit athletes capable of competing at their level.   Every roster spot is precious to coaches, and each recruited athlete is expected to contribute.  The scholarship money they spend on recruits is a true investment in their programs and their institutions.

Grades – a link to athletic opportunities

The higher a high school athlete’s GPA and test scores, the more college opportunities will be available.  

Once coach said, “We mix athletic with academic money, along with need-based dollars, grants, and loans to come up with financial packages for our recruits.  The better the athlete’s GPA and test scores, the more academic money we can throw their way.”