One of the winningest esports schools in North America can now proudly say that they will offer scholarships for varsity players and club members. University of British Columbia will begin giving out these scholarships next year after terms are finalized, an announcement received with excitement by a community that has felt largely overlooked by their school in spite of their successes.
“Even when our teams won international tournaments, there was no direct recognition from the university,” said Tristan Bunyard, president of the UBC eSports Association, in an official campus news release. “We were literally the best in North America for two years in a row. If that happened for any other sport, it’d be a pretty big deal.”
UBC has supported the club in the past with normal recreational club stipends, but will now recognize the importance of the 600-plus member scene more officially by offering two scholarships: one for an incoming freshman varsity player who is a high-achieving gamer, and another one for a deserving UBC eSports club member.
UBC eSports began in 2010 and has made an impact on the North American esports landscape by promoting positive experiences for club members and players alike. They have won several national and international titles, most notably the Collegiate League of Legends championship and CSL Dota 2 gold medals for two years in a row.
Carman Lam, co-founder of UBC eSports, offered a sense of the gravity that comes with these scholarships: “It’s very important for the players, and their peers, to understand what it means to be an esports competitor, a scholarship recipient, and a full-time student at UBC all at the same time…in a similar way that we should understand the role of each person on a team,” Lam said. “Offering scholarships will help strengthen this relatively new identity of being a collegiate esports competitor and improve their experience as a competitor and scholar in general.”
The excitement on campus is palpable, and the promise of a stronger UBC eSports will undoubtedly cause competitors to step up. Danny Hsieh, UBC alumni and former CS:GO Director from 2015-2017 had this to add: “For the longest time, UBC eSports has been waiting for this moment. Whether you’re someone who competes on any of UBC teams or someone who’s been putting the work in to make esports a bigger thing at UBC, it’s awesome to finally see the school itself contributing to what UBC eSports has been building for the last number of years.”