Which school has the best esports facility?
|University of Akron||Akron||Ohio|
|Boise State University||Boise||Idaho|
|University of California Berkeley||Berkeley||California|
|Robert Morris University Illinois||Chicago||Illinois|
|University of California Irvine||Irvine||California|
|Full Sail University||Winter Park||Florida|
|The Ohio State University||Columbus||Ohio|
|Maryville University St. Louis||St. Louis||Missouri|
|Indiana Institute of Technology||Fort Wayne||Indiana|
|University of Utah||Salt Lake City||Utah|
Today’s esports organizations know that only the biggest and the best training facilities will attract the world’s top cyberathletes. The coolest, state-of-the-art facilities are often what differentiates one team from another, so esports programs of all kinds are in a race to build the most elaborate spaces they can dream up and some of them have already reached this goal.
For example, Gen.G Esports has just completed an elaborate 13,000-square-foot training facility in Los Angeles, outfitted with three scrimmage rooms, a large film review room, a walk-in jersey closet, and six soundproof streaming rooms. The facility also houses an upscale eatery that provides healthy meals, and it even has sleeping pods.
Designed to support every facet of a player’s life, the facility offers all-access to gym memberships, personal trainers, physical therapy, and a full suite of amenities including an Olympic-sized swimming pool, basketball courts, and sand volleyball courts. The facility is also just a two-minute walk from the luxury apartments players live in.
Based in Seoul, South Korea, Gen.G. Esports says that in addition to hosting games, live broadcasts, and shooting interviews, the facility will house 40 of the organizations 100-plus employees. This is a tough act to follow, so the question is: can university programs keep up with well-funded private companies like Gen.G.? Maybe not just yet. But they’re working on it and we think some are already pretty wicked cool. Take a look.
University of Akron, Akron, Ohio
The University of Akron (UA) announced in 2017 that it would add varsity gaming to its campus beginning in fall 2018, making it the first public university in northern Ohio to establish a varsity program. Today, the program has not one, not two, but three state-of-the-art esports facilities on campus including Zips Gaming Lounge, Zips Esports Center, and Akron Esports Arena. Per the school:
Zips Gaming Lounge at Williams Honors College is filled with 24 state-of-the-art gaming PCs and five console stations. All are available for recreation use by University of Akron students. As long as students are in good academic standing, they can bring their classmates for some friendly matches, grind out some competitive games with a buddy or enjoy an AAA title that they may not want to purchase just yet.
Zips Esports Center at the Jean Hower Taber Student Union is the central hub for all things esports at University of Akron. Club esports teams are able to reserve sections of the PC and console stations for their practices and competitions. Unreserved PC and console stations are available for any student in good academic standing to use to play recreationally. The Akron Esports varsity teams also practice out of a computer lab in the center. The Center has 24 PC Stations and 10 Console Stations.
Akron Esports Arena at InfoCision Stadium is the showcase venue for the varsity esports teams. There events are hosted where fans can sit and watch the varsity teams compete in their collegiate leagues against opponents either online or occasionally live and in person at the arena.
In addition to Gold and Blue varsity teams for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Hearthstone, League of Legends, Overwatch, and Rocket League, University of Akron hosts club teams including Call of Duty, Fortnite, Heroes of the Storm, PUBG, Rainbow 6 Siege, Smite, Super Smash Bros. Melee, and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
University of Akron is a member of the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE).
Boise State University, Boise, Idaho
Launched in 2017, the Boise State University varsity esports program originally focused on League of Legends, Overwatch, and Rocket League. With the addition of Hearthstone and Heroes of the Storm shortly after launch, today the D-1 athletics school has an impressive five teams. In 2018, Boise State University Broncos finished among the top five Hearthstone teams in the U.S.
Hosted by the Department of Educational Technology, the program has a state-of-the-art esports arena located in the College of Innovation and Design’s Venture College in downtown Boise. The arena includes a professional broadcasting section, a technical mixing and graphics area, a two-tiered stage set-up, and new lighting and sound capabilities. The arena also includes a large area for spectators to watch the team in action. Program leaders are also working to install first-generation blue-turf recycled from Boise State’s iconic football field in the new space—another special touch.
Professor and General Manager of Boise State’s esports team Brett Shelton said the arena “will continue to bring high-visibility impact to the growing program.”
Boise State University is a member of the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE).
University of California Berkeley, Berkeley, California
University of California Berkeley (UC Berkeley) has one of the largest esports programs in the nation. Currently, more than 120 collegiate student-athletes represent the school at national and international gaming competitions. The school’s championship-winning esports teams compete for scholarships and global recognition. Players compete in more than 10 games such as Fortnite, League of Legends, Overwatch, and StarCraft II.
One of the few schools with a Women in Gaming Initiative, UC Berkeley has a multi-purpose gaming facility, known as Cal Esports Community Center, equipped with 55 high-end gaming PCs sponsored by NVIDIA, a Twitch Broadcast Center, Open Play Gaming Area, Player’s Lounge, and other amenities.
Twitch Broadcast Center is the main broadcasting hub for all official Cal Esports matches and events. It is also reservable for students.
Open Play Gaming Area is the main event and gaming space for students to play, compete, and socialize. The official Cal Esports teams practice here, along with many gaming clubs and special events utilizing the space.
Player’s Lounge is a casual activity area designed for viewing live gaming streams and media using both Cal Esports SMART TVs. They can also be used for live event streams or console play during specific events.
University of California Berkeley is a member of the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE).
Robert Morris University Illinois, Chicago, Illinois
In 2014, Robert Morris University Illinois (RMU-Illinois) became the first university to launch a varsity esports team. Players compete in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO), Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, League of Legends, Overwatch, and Rocket League. One of the veteran programs’ most recent successes took place April 28, 2019 at the Adrian Phillips Theater in Atlantic City, New Jersey when the Junior Varsity League of Legends team claimed the 2019 Collegiate Starleague Championship.
Players practice and compete in the iBUYPOWER Robert Morris Esports Arena at the school’s Chicago campus. RMU-Illinois is the first in the world to build an on-campus facility to facilitate gaming at both the professional and educational level. The arena is equipped with the very best in technology. When it opened back in 2014, at the heart of the gaming systems were the latest generation Intel Core i7 processors and NVIDIA GeForce GTX GPUs.
Today, thanks to sponsors such as iBUYPOWER, ASUS, Cooler Master, and DXRacer, players and students continue to have access to the highest quality gaming PCs, keyboards, mice, and gaming chairs.
Robert Morris University Illinois is a member of the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE).
University of California Irvine, Irvine, California
In 2016, University of California Irvine (UCI) became the first public research university to invest in an esports program. The program’s state-of-the-art esports gaming facility, UCI Esports Arena, now sits at the heart of the campus on the Student Center Terrace, and it’s packed with 72 top-of-the-line iBUYPOWER gaming computers, each paired with Logitech gaming gear and high-quality gaming chairs to improve the student experience. In addition to the PCs, the school says that the facility has a Console & Community Corner where campus clubs and organizations can host events and meetings and where [we] demo virtual reality. The arena also houses a Broadcast Station.
The buzzing 3,500-square-foot-space helped attract the best talent to the programs’ League of Legends and Overwatch teams. It also help the UCI Esports win the first collegiate esports national tournament in 2018—the College League of Legends Championship. Today, University of California Irvine is considered a top-tier esports institution.
Full Sail University, Winter Park, Florida
Full Sail University launched a brand new collegiate esports league in 2018, assembling its inaugural teams during a two-day event at the school’s Annual Hall of Fame Celebration. The league, known as Armanda, is open to all students and unites existing student clubs focused on competitive gameplay under one single unit. The program gives students the opportunity to compete against other universities in games such as Overwatch, League of Legends, Smash Brothers, Smite, Rocket League, Dragon Ball FighterZ, and more.
This year, the school officially unveiled the leagues new $6 million, 11,200-square-foot esports arena known as “Fortress Sports Arena.” The Fortress is a customizable facility that supports 1 vs 1 games, as well as 100 esports athletes playing simultaneously. With occupancy for more than 500 fans, Full Sail University says the Fortress is the largest competitive gaming venue on a college campus. Other features include high-end monitors and video production equipment as well as the most current technology to host not only collegiate and professional gaming tournaments and live esports streaming events, but activities such as drone programming, possibly drone racing, and more.
In addition to the arena, a separate dedicated practice space for Armada is housed on the 210+-acre Full Sail campus. The space is equipped with the latest in gaming technology, providing the opportunity for esports athletes to train for upcoming tournaments, both on-campus and on the road, and for taking part in events across the country and internationally.
The program hopes that with the addition of the new arena, it will attract high-profile gamers to the Full Sail University campus.
Full Sail University is a member of the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE).
The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio
In 2018, The Ohio State University launched a first-of-its-kind comprehensive esports program that Ohio State News Contributor Alexis Shaw says, “brings together academics, collegiate competition and multidisciplinary research to give students as many opportunities as possible to be a part of the booming industry.” If this wasn’t awesome enough, they built out a state-of-the-art arena with more than 80 seats, equipped with computer consoles and virtual reality systems, as well as a broadcast booth for students interested in shoutcasting.
Players will practice and compete with other Power 5 universities in a newly formed league commissioned by the Electronic Gaming Federation. The Ohio State Buckeyes compete in League of Legends.
The Ohio State University is a member of the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE).
Maryville University St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri
Maryville University established its esports program (The Saints) in 2015, becoming one of the first universities in the country to offer esports scholarships to student-players. In its first season in the C-Star League Division 1, The Saints captured the League of Legends championship at Dreamhack, held in Austin, Texas. Dreamhack is considered the biggest tournament in North America history. Maryville ended the season undefeated, with a 40-0 record. The club recently won its third League of Legends college championship, where it competed with hundreds of college teams for the title. The club also competes in Heroes of the Storm.
One of six founding members of the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE), Maryville University provides players with a dedicated, state-of-the-art practice facility with the absolute highest internet speeds available, for the lowest possible ping and highest FPS (frames-per-second). The facility is also equipped with high-speed computers, top-of-the-line headsets, and gaming chairs for maximum comfort and complete concentration.
Competitive teams meet and practice three times per week. Practices are scrims against collegiate and pro teams. When not practicing, help with homework or a casual gaming environment is available.
Indiana Institute of Technology, Fort Wayne, Indiana
Indiana Institute of Technology (better known as Indiana Tech) started Indiana Tech Warrior Esports as a club sport in the 2015-2016 academic year. The program grew quickly, and today it has more than 20 members competing on Hearthstone, League of Legends, and Overwatch teams. The school has invested in facilities to accommodate its growing esports program. A vacant department office space was transformed into a 20-player gaming station arena, complete with 20 state-of-the-art, unique, custom-built battle stations, DXRacer chairs, and Razer peripherals.
As a founding member of the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE), Indiana Tech Esports was the first school in the state of Indiana to award esports scholarships to its Hearthstone and League of Legends players.
University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah
In 2017, the Entertainment Arts and Engineering Program (EAE) at University of Utah launched a varsity-level esports program, which it says is “one of the first varsity-level esports program from any school in a Power Five athletic conference.” Players compete in four games including Hearthstone, League of Legends, Overwatch, and Rocket League. The EAE Esports program is so popular, that around 200 students tryout each year, but only 30 or so make the team.
The lucky few that do make the team practice and compete in The EAE Building—a recently renovated 30,000-square-foot space on the University of Utah campus. In addition to esports training and competition facilities with a least 20 gaming computers—each equipped with top-notch keyboards, mice, and monitors—the building houses teaching and research labs for game streaming, games user research, motion capture and VR/AR, a coffeeshop, the EAE graduate student studio, the LaLonde student lounge, and meeting and collaboration spaces.
Also housed in the space are two dedicated class labs for EAE courses, an additional meeting and collaboration space, a computing lab space for undergraduate Capstone courses, and faculty and staff offices.
University of Utah is a member of the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE).
Miami University, Oxford, Ohio
Miami University Esports (RedHawks) launched in fall 2016, making it one of the first varsity esports programs at a top tier U.S. university. Established by the schools Armstrong Institute for Interactive Media Studies (AIMS), the Division I teams compete in Hearthstone, League of Legends, and Overwatch. Miami’s Overwatch team won the 2017 National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE) championship. Also in 2017, AIMS and Miami University IT partnered on a groundbreaking esports arena.
The state-of-the-art esports facility is located on King Library’s first floor, making it one of the first esports facilities at any university library in the nation. Per the school, the arena is equipped with dimmable lighting and painted in Miami red with black details, and features 16 gaming stations. “Each gaming computer possesses high-end graphics cards and monitors, specially designed to keep up with the intense graphic demands of modern gaming. Two large-screen televisions are available for viewing games in progress or reviewing previous games.”
“Each team has access to the arena to practice and fine-tune their skills for competitive matches. On average, team members practice anywhere from eight to 16 hours per week with competitions taking place throughout the week. All three Miami esports teams can utilize the arena at once if necessary.” When it opened, students say the dedicated space was “a dream come true.”
Miami University is a member of the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE).
Note: The programs and facilities in this article are not ranked. In addition, all program information has been obtained from each schools official website.
Game Design Programs to Consider:
- Atlanta, Georgia; Savannah, Georgia; Lacoste, France; and SCAD eLearning
“50 World Class College Esports Programs [That Dominate] The Competition.” LiquidLuck.gg. Liquid Luck, 2019. Web. 22 Jul. 2019.
McAllister, Joe. “Universities Use New Esports Programs to Entice Students.” EdTech. CDW LLC, 18 Mar. 2019. Web. 22 Jul. 2019.
Takahashi, Dean. “Gen.G completes 13,000-square-foot esports training facility in Los Angeles.” VentureBeat. VentureBeat, 23 Jul. 2019. Web 24 Jul. 2019.