The University of Windsor will host what may be the first official university-level competitive intercollegiate esports team in Canada this September.
Through the combined efforts of the Office of Student Experience, the Student Success and Leadership Centre, the Faculty of Science, and the School of Computer Science, the program will bring together students from across campus to celebrate their passion for competitive video gaming.
Esports is a billion-dollar industry worldwide that features both professional and recreational teams in online gaming competitions. In 2019, esports had an online viewing audience of 443 million, with numbers continuing to grow. At the time of writing there are more than 200 collegiate esports teams in the United States and Canada, including St. Clair College.
Paul Meister, a PhD candidate in chemistry, is leading the project. He calls it an “incredible opportunity” for the University of Windsor and the community.
“Our students have been waiting for their chance to compete on the international stage,” he says. “I’m excited to finally give it to them with the support of the phenomenal partner ecosystem we’ve established.”
Meister and his team started last year and since September 2019, have signed on more than 250 UWindsor students from all faculties, including large contingents from engineering, science, and arts, humanities and social sciences.
The initial launch will involve a modest investment with a vision toward growth says Cindy Crump, director of the Student Success and Leadership Centre, which will be the home base of Lancer Gaming.
“Esports represents a great way to enhance the student experience and raise the profile of the University across the globe,” Crump says. “We’re excited to start a conversation with partners who want to see the University grow in this way.”
Chris Houser, dean of science, has supported esports activities, calling them an “innovative way for UWindsor to stand out” in the increasingly competitive recruitment environment, and noting that they present opportunities for research.
“Esports is not only about computer science and gaming, it also has ingredients of business, marketing, creative writing, visual and dramatic arts, and several other academic areas,” Dr. Houser says.
Lancer Gaming will make resources available for students to participate, including a room in Vanier Hall outfitted with high-speed internet and gaming consoles for those without access to suitable equipment.
Meister plans a 10-person team to represent UWindsor in upcoming international League of Legends tournaments and to have the school join the Ontario Post-Secondary Esports league set to launch this fall.