UA’s Esports Program ranks second in nation


Esports at The University of Akron

Gaming continues to be popular with students, and esports proves to be a competitive arena that’s both inclusive and growing rapidly on college campuses. According to a new ranking by DailyGame, an international online magazine covering video game sports and news, The University of Akron’s (UA) Esports Program is one of the best—ranking number two in the United States.

“The University of Akron is an exciting pick,” said Sara Anslee, one of the DailyGame writers. “You have access to early classes, a practice arena, tutoring, assignments help, group study, a $1000 esports scholarship and exciting competitions. The university offers one of the most robust esports programs in the U.S. and beyond.”

Nate Meeker, director of Esports at UA, attributes the outstanding ranking to several factors. “Our program has greater breadth and depth than many other collegiate programs,” he explained. “Universities around the area and across the country offer varsity spots for students to compete, but that doesn’t speak to the greater student body experience. At Akron, any student, regardless of their interests or ability to play these games, has the opportunity to participate and that really sets us apart.”

According to Meeker, close to 10 percent of the student population is integrated into the program. “We have a lot of STEM, engineering and business students. The one thing that makes it unique from other UA programs that work with student retention and success is that it primarily engages students who don’t have another program that they call home on campus.”

“Approximately 60 percent of the students involved in esports don’t interact with other student clubs or services, so it really is their one and only activity and a pathway to making friends on campus,” Meeker added.

Esports encompasses three different aspects of student life: At the varsity level, the University competes against other U.S. colleges. Over the past five years, UA teams have won 20-plus national championships. Games include League of Legends, Rocket League, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Overwatch, Hearthstone, Rainbow Six Siege, Fortnite and Valorant.

UA also offers an esports club, where close to 700 students who are interested in a variety of games can compete.

Finally, the recreational component engages around 1400 students playing a variety of games, coming to community nights, or planning different events on campus.

In addition, UA offers an Esports Business certificate. This 12-credit interdisciplinary certificate is prepared to respond to the industry’s need for properly trained college graduates to fill such esports-related positions as team manager, tournament manager, event coordinator, marketing specialist, social media specialist, sales manager, content creator and more.

“The Esports Business Certificate gives students at UA the opportunity to get hands-on experience operating an esports event from start to finish while building skills that are valuable to employers in the field,” said Meeker.

The University of Akron features three exclusive gaming facilities spanning over 1222 square feet. This includes an arena for varsity teams and recreational teams. Each hall contains 24 PC stations and several console stations. The third gaming facility—showcasing venue—allows students to watch varsity game competitions

Whether it’s from the competitive aspect, the club aspect or the student engagement aspect, UA is recognized for developing an outstanding program. “Not only are we ranked number two, but for the past five years, we’ve consistently been in the conversation for the best esports program in the entire country,” Meeker added.

Learn more at Esports | Multiplayer Gaming