KEYSER, W.Va. — Potomac State College of West Virginia University is one of the most recent schools to add an Esports team.
The college has joined the National Association of Collegiate Esports, which is the only association of college- and university-sponsored Esports programs. NACE officially formed in 2016 and has more than 130 member schools.
Esports is a form of competition using video games played individually or by teams.
“We were in the process of expanding our athletic program,” said Lucas Taylor, the college’s dean of student experiences. “We wanted to bring men’s and women’s soccer back. Also, (we) wanted to find a way to attract out-of-town students and we started hearing about Esports and how the industry is booming. We found out that not many schools in our region was offering an Esports program, so we wanted to be pretty aggressive about bringing one here.”
According to Newzoo.com, Esports will reach $1 billion in revenue in 2019, a 26.7% increase from last year.
League of Legends is one of the most popular competitive and watched games. In the month of September, it had an average viewership of 114,923. Fortnite is the most streamed game by players, having an average of 5,275 live channels, according to twitchmetrics.com
The Potomac State team plays League of Legends, Fortnite and Rocket League, and plans to add more.
The team will be coached by Joshua Steger, a former collegiate Esports player, who previously worked with Esports at the University of Central Florida and Central Michigan University. Steger competed in League of Legends and Madden NFL.
“Potomac State was a school I could come to and start from scratch since their program is just beginning,” Steger said.
The team is made up of all freshmen. One of the freshman, Nasir Moudy, is a professional gamer.
Moudy is from Pennsylvania and was being recruited by other schools, but chose Potomac State because “it was closer to home than other schools,” he said.
Many of the players on the team have hopes of becoming professionals, including Brandon Kossy from British Columbia, Canada, who said his father got him into video games.
“I used to sit on his lap and watch him play computer games,” Kossy said.
Kossy attributes gaming to some of the best things that have happened in his life.
“I met a lot of people I would never have,” he said. “I wouldn’t have experienced all the things I have, like coming down here (America). I would never go to college here (Potomac State) if it wasn’t for video games.”
Kossy’s teammate, Jackson White, also wants to go professional.
According to White, his competitive nature is what got him into Esports.
“Ever since Fortnite came out, I have been addicted,” he said.
“It was exciting and something new for me,” Madison Kaley said of learning the college was forming an Esports team.
Kaley has never competed, which she called “scared and excited.”
When applying to colleges, Sean Alsip didn’t know Esports was an option.
“I didn’t know they had an Esports team until I was applying for colleges,” he said, “then I saw Potomac State had an Esports team and that caught my eye.”
Alsip will compete in Fortnite.
Steger coaches a team of players that play different games, which could be challenging and is unlike coaching any other sport.
“It is difficult to coach different games; I have to watch a lot of film,” he said. “The players know I can see things they can’t, so being able to criticize them and take feedback is key. We have to work together to improve.”
While the team is young and new, Steger does not lack any confidence in his team.
“Even though we are just starting out, we plan to compete for that championship,” he said.
Follow staff writer Donovan Conaway on Twitter & Instagram @BooogieDono.