It was easy to wonder, back when the concept of e-sports was getting started, if there would be college leagues and potentially even high school leagues as the next generation of competitive gamers would be sought out to put into league play. That seems to be the case now that Twitch
and Newegg have gotten together to put up $20,000 for the High School StarLeague scholarship, an award that actually makes it possible to earn money for college while gaming.
Under the terms of the concept, Twitch and Newegg put up the cash as part of the High School StarLeague, a league of competitive gamers at the high school level. Now, the best players in this particular field will be able to go on to compete for $20,000--$10,000 from Twitch and $10,000 from Newegg--in college scholarships, a number that's never been seen for this level of play. Basically, it's to the point where the high school kids are competing in a variety of games, ranging from "League of Legends" and "DOTA 2" to even "StarCraft II
," much in the same way they might play golf or basketball. High School StarLeague Tomber Su noted "With these scholarships, the HSL will usher in a new era of e-sports where excelling in cyber-athletics will be as respected as excelling in traditional sports."
For those who might think that high school-range professional gaming is a pipe dream, the High School StarLeague is actually much more extensive than might be considered. There are currently over 750 schools involved, in 46 states and eight provinces, making it one of the largest high school tournaments around. Just in the last year, the numbers of players have increased from 500 to almost 4000, a substantial gain by any reckoning. For those who might think this a collection of basement-dwellers with no future beyond that of McDonald's
, the average weighted GPA of the players in question--some schools use different systems to measure GPA, including some who turn to a 13-point system--is a 4.1, and there are over 50 teams that are part of the U.S. News and World Report's top 200 high school rankings.
It's kind of an amazing idea, but it was really the kind of thing that should have been seen coming right from the outset. In all honesty, did we really ever not think that college kids, that high school kids, were absolutely going to want in on this? The thought that they might not have wanted it was downright ludicrous, in all honesty, and to see this emerging really just makes sense in retrospect. We are, essentially, witnessing the creation of a completely new sports league here, with all that entails. But will this one catch on the way its predecessors have? It's not out of line to say it will; after all, we've gone from the Nintendo World Championships and "The Wizard" to League of Legends and the e-sports bar. The idea of competitive gaming has clearly crossed the Rubicon, and for better or worse, we're looking at the end result right now. Will there one day be a letter jacket for the e-sports jock? Will the nerds find themselves taking on the school's video game team? It all may sound just a little on the crazy side, but this may well happen, and not too far from now, either.