The student news site of Antioch Community High School.

Sequoit Media

The student news site of Antioch Community High School.

Sequoit Media

The student news site of Antioch Community High School.

Sequoit Media


Leveling up: the ride of collegiate esports

Illinois State University is paving the way for collegiate esports in universities.
Illinois State University
ISU esports team in aciton.

It is time for parents to stop telling their children to get off video games. The old argument that playing video games all day will not take you anywhere is now false. Collegiate esports are growing in reputation and are becoming the next level for highly skilled gamers. Electronic sports are multiplayer video games played competitively by gamers for spectators. David Kirk is the director of Redbird Esports at Illinois State University (ISU), one of the largest programs leading the way for the future of collegiate esports. ISU was the first public state institution in Illinois to support varsity esports. Last October, the program opened the Redbird Esports Arena.

“We have had about 30,000 visitors come into the [new facility]. It is one of the largest collegiate esports arenas in the country currently,” Kirk said. “It is an arms race and things are always changing.”

ISU prides its esports program on four primary pillars: competitive, club, casual, and career. Many schools are beginning to offer full scholarships to build their varsity roster. Teams compete in either online or in-person tournaments all over the country, with chances to compete outside the US. Senior esports athlete Drew Nelburger has been on the varsity Redbird Esports team since his freshman year. Nelburger believes the program has become very successful throughout the years.

“The Overwatch team won the Contenders League, and we are the only college team to ever do that,” Nelburger said. “On our first year of being a League of Legends program, we got to the Collegiate League of Legends Championships, and we got top eight.”

The esports program is very competitive and can be compared to the work of a popular varsity sports team. Both require hours of practice each day, physical conditioning, and team study sessions. Kirk believes that practice is essential in esports because the games are always changing and updating.

“Our players in a player base of 2.2 million, they are in the top 50-500 players in the world,” Kirk said.

For gamers who are not breaking into the top 500, ISU offers a wide variety of gaming clubs. These clubs range from competitive tournaments to casual hangouts. Students can be flexible and pick the gaming type of their choice. All students from ISU can use the new Redbird Esports Arena through their tuition.

“David Kirk did not brag enough about the new arena, because it is amazing,” Nelburger said. “It is free for all students and the varsity rooms are great.”

Matthew Gisi is a sophomore at ISU and is the current student president of the Redbird Esports Club.

“Our club teams span every rank imaginable, with players ranked in the top 200 in America, and at the bottom, we have regular players,” Gisi said.

Esports programs can offer opportunities to students who want to spend their time away from the gaming sphere and put their time at the traditional keyboard. One of the four primarily pillars at ISU is career, which focuses on the behind the scenes management and production. Junior Eden Jodgen is the Event and Outreach Coordinator at ISU and helps run events for the ISU esports program.

“I will help with budgeting and how to work smoothly as a club,” Jodgen said. “Anything that boils down to how to run an RSO (registered student organizations) at the college level, I will help them fi gure out.”

ISU offers esports at various levels for their students. Kirk believes that collegiate esports will continue to expand throughout the upcoming years, allowing high school students to play at this level.

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