SOU Esports teams practice daily at the Student Recreation Center

SOU Esports progresses to the next level

The Esports Management minor had its first graduate last fall, and the Raider Esports team has officially been accepted into the NACE StarLeague, the national league of college Esports. The association hosts tournaments in the spring and fall, in which schools from all over the country compete in various video game competitions.

SOU Esports currently has Rocket League and League of Legends teams registered, and is looking to add a Valorant team soon. Each competes with other teams, playing those specific video games. The SOU teams will compete regularly against other college and university teams, including UCLA and University of California, Bakersfield. They are currently looking for new players, and information about upcoming tryouts is on the team’s Instagram (@sou_esports). The team is holding practices throughout the week at the Esports Hub in the SOU Student Recreation Center, in preparation for upcoming competitions, which will be streamed live on Twitch.

SOU Esports lead Ashley RadThe Esports lead, SOU student Ashley Rad, has been hard at work guiding the team into this next phase.

“We heard back in about a week that we got accepted and I was super excited that our team was able to get this opportunity,” she said, regarding the application process for getting into NACE

Ashley became the team lead at the beginning of fall term 2021, and has quickly taken the team to new heights. She hosts tryouts, runs practices and registers for tournaments. She has lots of ambition and big plans for the team.

“I absolutely love this job and the Esports industry,” she said. “I have plans to expand more next year and I aim to make Esports a much bigger organization at SOU.”

Esports is a burgeoning industry that has only skyrocketed since the introduction of the Esports Management minor at SOU last year. Jeremy Carlton, a business faculty member at SOU who oversees the program, said “enthusiasm is off the charts” in an interview with SOU News. There are currently 10 students who have declared the minor, but many more who have expressed interest in declaring – and almost every Esports class fills up quickly each term. The program also saw its first graduate with the minor last fall – someone interested in working in the industry as a mental health advisor for professional Esports teams.

Interest in Esports is expected to continue rising following the pandemic, with 577 million viewers by 2024. It’s still in its infancy, and SOU is ahead of the curve in offering educational opportunities in the field. Courses in the university’s minor offer structural principles for the world of Esports, addressing the ethics of the industry, focusing on diversity, stomping out toxicity and teaching efficient business management. The minor complements majors of all kinds, but has lots of double-dipping opportunities in the Business, Communication and Emerging Media and Digital Arts programs. Goals for the program in the future are to bring in professional Esports competitors as guest speakers, and increase connections between the team and the minor.

Learn more about the Esports Management minor here and don’t forget to watch the Raider Esports Team on Twitch Mondays and Tuesdays.

Story and photos by Nash Bennett, SOU Marketing and Communications student writer