E-Sports Coming To York?

York College’s Athletic Director, Denee’ Barracato, says she is looking into bringing e-sports to York. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

By Fiifi Frimpong

York College gamers could expect to play their favorite games in a competitive e-sports league against other schools in the near future.

The rising billion-dollar industry has been a trend for years and York students may have their chance to test the waters of competitive online gaming.

Denee’ Barracato, York College’s athletic director, acknowledged the growing trend. She mentioned that e-sports is an area she plans to explore, but other plans have taken priority over beginning an e-sports division within the school.

“E-sports is a growing interest in the collegiate realm,” she said. “We aren’t at a point to provide that service to students right now. We want to focus on other areas in the school that are lacking before we begin to implement e-sports.”

The possibility of implementing an e-sports team isn’t out of reach for the school. Other schools in the City University of New York (CUNY) system, like Baruch, Hunter, Queens, among others all have their own e-sports teams. They play in the Collegiate Starleague, an intercollegiate gaming league open to all accredited colleges and universities in North America. Games are run all year-long with weekly matches.  

There is a wide variety of games that could be played competitively. League of Legends, Overwatch, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive are some of the most popular games in the e-sports scene right now. Tournaments on Twitch, an online live streaming platform, constantly accumulates tens, sometimes hundreds of thousands of views from fans worldwide.

Students could test their skills in battle royal shooters like Apex Legends and Fortnite. Traditional first-person shooter, Call of Duty, have also been a top option for e-sport tournaments since the origins of competitive gaming.

Sports games like Madden NFL and NBA 2K are also popular and are steadily making its way up the ranks year-by-year.

E-sport’s growth has been undeniable, collegiately and professionally. What started as a casual hobby turned into an avenue for gamers to receive an annual salary.

Recently, a huge milestone was reached in the NBA 2k League on March 5. Warriors Gaming, run by the National Basketball Association’s Golden State Warriors, drafted Chiquita Evans in the fourth round, making her the first woman ever drafted in the NBA 2K League.

With the continous growth of the industry, more milestones like this will be achieved. According to Forbes, ESPN dedicated parts of its website and magazine to e-sports due to colleges and other audiences investing so much into the industry.

The business magazine also reported that in 2013, the League of Legends Championship sold out Staples Center in Los Angeles and brought in another 27 million viewers. That large number is almost as much as the combined audience for the NBA Finals and MLB World Series that year.

Running an e-sports program would be an alternative for more students to get involved with the York community outside of daily academic rigors. Barracato noted the idea is one that she’s making sure is studied properly so all parties involved could enjoy.

“I’m doing my research now,” the athletic director said. “I’ve been to seminars to discuss and learn about e-sports. I just want to make sure everything is done properly.”   

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