The Queensland University of Technology (QUT) has officially begun their support of an eSports club, with a yet-to-be-finalised scholarship program in the works. Media like the Daily Telegraph are reporting that the QUT is opening its doors to the training, competition and careers of eSport gamers within the University. The QUT added eSports to their range of offered sports, along with traditional sports like Rugby and Cricket, establishing infrastructure and facilities to host eSports. They are boasting 27 high-end gaming setups and a designated “arena”, as the Telegraph describes, for club members. QUT eSports coordinator Dylan Poulus stated, “We’ve got the best specs in terms of games and hardware and we’ve got the most developed program in the country.” This is the first of its kind in an Australian tertiary education institute. The university is also offering a scholarship program, which will included alternate timetabling, separate exam scheduling and extended leave for competitions, much like universities already offer for sports like Rowing.
The program is designed to offer the same level of grassroot support for eSports as traditional sports. Players will ‘ascend through the ranks’ in traditional sports, improving their skills, until they are selected for a professional team. “In traditional sports like cricket, you have a grassroots club system that brings players up through the ranks,” Poulus describes the process in cricket, stating “it’s a pathway that pretty much guarantees that if you score enough centuries you’ll eventually make the Australian team.” This is the groundwork that the university is aiming to setup for eSports and gamers who are seeking a professional pathway. While it is unclear how direct the pathway from QUT gamer to professional eSports competitor is, this groundwork is an essential first step in establishing this pathway.
ESports within Australia has seen a steady growth in both its perceived legitimacy as a sport as well as a significant growth in the investment of eSports facilities and infrastructure. An example of this is QeSports, a joint venture set to aggressively invest in the booming esports market, and the Rift Rivals League of Legends tournament, held in early July. However, there has also been a huge investment in existing institutions, looking to either reach a new audience or reengage an old audience through the exciting new world of eSports. Sports like Soccer, with the “E-League” collaboration with the A-League, or Football, with the “League of Origin” collaboration with the AFL, are all looking to the eSports boom as an unexplored new territory for both sports and eSports fans to come together.
While the details on the QUT’s scholarship aren’t currently finalised, stay tuned to Gamers Classified for any updates.