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ESports taking over Midlands' sports landscape

The Esports realm is a multibillion-dollar industry and some local colleges are taking advantage of its recent raise in popularity.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The ribbon was cut and applause filled Benedict College's brand new Esports gaming room.

All this is part of a new push by the school to invest in the booming video game industry. 

Esports are multiplayer video games that are played competitively and the  competitions happen both locally and globally.

Dr. Paula Shelby was one of the original minds behind creating Benedict's Esports room. "You always hear about Korea, you always here about China. We want to tap into those competitions because our students can play. They can play, they can compete and we want them to have the same opportunities as other young people around the world."

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Jaredd Eubanks is a graduate student at Benedict and is also a part of the team since it's creation. He sees Esports as an opportunity to make money. 

"As a kid your parents are like ‘get off the game, you won’t make any money playing that game’. Well now you can...It could blossom into anything. The potential is unlimited," said Eubanks. 

At Columbia International University, an Esports team has already been competing for a season. The school currently has 13 gamers on scholarships and according to assistant athletic director, Scott Girgsby, it hopes to expand that number to over 30.

"For some kids, they might not have been able to go to college if it weren’t for that. Who would’ve thought that video games could be a way for people to get education?, " Girgsby said. 

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Clafflin University is also getting in on the Esports craze. 

In the fall 2022 semester, the business school will offer a Business Administration major with a concentration in Esports Gaming Administration. 

Nicholas J. Hill is the dean of the business school and says this is an industry that will continue to grow.

"We saw it as not only a way to provide expertise training for this emerging industry. Fourteen billion to almost $20 billion dollars a year industry."

Hill adds, "also there are these industries that are putting together these events where people come together and compete."

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