CARBONDALE, IL (KFVS) - Esports, one of the fastest growing industries in the country, is about to have a new home at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.
School officials confirm that a team will be formed under the National Association of Collegiate Esports, and are in the process of remodeling space in the student center for an ‘Esports Arena’ where the team can practice.
Johan De Leuw is a junior at the school and current president of their local Esports club. He says when he was a freshman, there wasn’t any presence for competitive video gaming.
Now he’s excited to see an Esports Arena being built in one of the more public places on campus where Saluki Tech used to be on the ground floor of the student center.
“For it to be in such a localized area and with those glass walls people can just look inside and see us participating, practicing, all sorts of stuff,” he said.
Associate Director for the SIUC Student Center, Kent Epplin said he and other university leaders saw the popularity of Esports and decided SIUC would be a great place to have a team.
“About three or four months ago I knew very little about the Esports craze,” he said. "But the amount of people watching Esports is phenomenal as far as large events are held all across the United States just for Esports competitions.”
According to a report from Newzoo, last year there were 194 million people tuning into Esport competitions. By 2020, the report estimates that number will rise to 303 million and be a $1.5 billion dollar industry.
In the college world, this industry is turning into opportunity for players. Epplin says at least 100 schools around the country have varsity level teams under the National Association of Collegiate Esports that give out scholarships, which he would like to see at SIUC.
The Esports Arena is scheduled to be fully remodeled with 12 new Alienware Computers for players to use next year, according to Epplin.