On April 5, 2017, The U and its nationally ranked Entertainment Arts & Engineering (EAE) video game development program announced that they are forming the U’s first college-sponsored varsity esports program. 

U team will compete in various games and to begin with League of Legends has been identified as the first game, while other games will be announced in due course of time.

Esports has had a dramatic rise in popularity in the U.S. over the last few years – especially on college campuses, said A.J. Dimick, director of operations for the U’s new esports program. “We think college esports is a great opportunity and we want our students to be part of it.”

The U’s esports program will be sponsored by the EAE video game development program, which has been ranked the No. 1 video game design program in the nation for three of the past five years by The Princeton Review.

EAE is proud to elevate competitive gaming at the U, said Robert Kessler, director of EAE. “We think it is a great opportunity for our students, the vibrant gaming community here on campus and Utah fans in general to come together and watch these players hone their skills and play competitively to represent our school.”

 “We have more than 750 university League of Legends student clubs and more than 20 official varsity programs across North America,” said Michael Sherman, college esports lead for Riot Games. “The U continues to showcase why it’s among the nation’s most innovative and competitive as the first Power Five school to build its varsity League of Legends team.”

The U’s student club team, Crimson Gaming, played an integral role in this initiative along with the U administration to develop the new team with EAE.

Crimson_UTAH esports

The U has seen a rise in esports on campus, accompanied by distinct benefits from this community, said President David W. Pershing. “Students with very diverse backgrounds and interests engage with one another in this inclusive but competitive gaming environment.”

Dimick hopes the new collegiate team will kickstart all Power Five schools to form their own university-sponsored teams.

“It is important for big colleges and their administrations to jump in,” said Dimick. “And we hope to encourage that.”

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