League of Legends has always been compared to DOTA 2 when it comes to its sheer amount of players and global eSports scene. The most recent iteration of the League of Legends World Championship in 2017 was watched by a total of 60 million people worldwide. The University of California, Berkeley has announced a partnership with Riot Games to introduce a scholarship program and intramural eSports League featuring the MOBA game.
As revealed in the press release, the partnership is part of the university’s effort to provide more opportunities for the Cal eSports community, with the beginning of the League of Legends Intramural Esports League in fall 2018. It will also be introducing scholarships students who are part of the Cal League of Legends eSports team.
University of California, Berkeley Interim Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Stephen Sutton said: “We’re thrilled to partner with Riot Games, as our eSports program has been gaining incredible momentum. Just last week, we announced we’re creating UC Berkeley’s first esports community center. We’re pleased to add another dimension through a new intramural league and scholarships. We’re looking forward to advancing the potential of our students and of collegiate esports with this partnership between Cal and an industry giant like Riot Games.”
League of Legends is not the only game that offers scholarships in prestigious universities. Last month, Ashland University in Ohio announced that it will begin offering Fortnite as part of its eSports program starting in Fall 2018, including scholarships of up to $4,000 based on player skill and academic requirements.
Riot Games Lead of College League of Legends in North America Matt Birris said: “We’re excited by UC Berkeley’s holistic support for gaming, from the Cal Esports Community Center and Women In Gaming initiative, to scholarship and Intramural League of Legends programs.”
If more institutions of tertiary education offer eSports scholarship programs and show their support, it would certainly contribute to the growth of eSports, especially in regards to public perception. It would also lend recognition and legitimacy to eSports and the games industry as a whole.