SPRINGFIELD, Mo- Esports has been on the rise over the past few years and one of the games, in particular, is to blame, Fortrnite.
And on Sunday afternoon, Fortnite sent the gaming community into a frenzy after an end-of-the-season event. Fortnite ended its 10th season with massive destruction of the famous island that many online gamers battled on for two years now. After the explosion, the map and every person in the game at the time of the event warped into a black hole.
The blackhole aspect of the game is where people started going crazy. Fortnite developers, Epic Games, have not released any details if the game is over or what is to come next. But for many players of the game, from kids to famous online streamers, this event has caused an uproar.
Drury Esports team Head Coach Michael Jones says Fortnite is using it as a marketing stunt and that players should not worry and expect the new season to come out in a few days.
What is Esports?
Jones started this year at Drury as the head coach of Drury’s esports team. Drury added the sport this school year as a non-NCAA program.
“The term head coach is more of a holdover from traditional athletics, I do coach the various teams that we have in multiple games, but beyond that, I’m really more of a program director,” says Jones.
Jones began his esports career at Culver-Stockton College in Canton, Missouri in 2017 and led their team to a 30-19 record in the 2018-19 season, according to Drury’s website.
He says it is hard to say that esports is just another sport because of the massive list of games that are played as esports. The two main games Drury’s program focuses on are League of Legends and Rocket Leauge, both very popular in the PC gaming world.
Jones says Drury is one of 150 schools nationwide that participate in esports. Some schools have just esports student-led clubs but other, like Drury, have varsity leagues that are considered in school athletic programs.
“So we’re a member of the Nationaional Association of Collegiate Esports, that was sort of an outgrowth of the NAIA. Many of the early adopters of varsity programs were smaller NAIA schools.”
Jones says Mizzou has joined the esports bandwagon and just announced a team.
Esports and Academics
Jones has a message to parents and administrators who are skeptical, ” They’re doing it anyway, this is what they do for fun, this what they enjoy, this is how they spend time with friends. Rather than fighting against that let’s sponsor it and help them develop healthy habits around it.”
Jones treats his esports athletes like how collegiate traditional athletes are treated when it comes to maintaining your grades.
“You’re expected to maintain a minimum GPA and here at Drury we aim higher than that.”
He says teamwork is another aspect these athletes need to grasp. Most of his players have gone their video gaming career on tier own and didn’t have what many high schools are offering, esports classes.
“This is organized play, where you’re playing with the same teammates every week, and they’re not across the country in your headset, they’re sitting right next to you, so if you have an issue you need to work it out.”
He says it is important to create a healthy framework, meaning to allocate different times of the day to maintain a healthy lifestyle while still being able to spend up to eight hours of training for the next esports match.
Careers in Esports
Jones says there is a variety of jobs in the esports market. From becoming a well-known gamer to even an esports world cup event announcer.
“I’m a coach, I grew up playing video games. esports wasn’t quite what it was when I was growing up, but this is how I was able to make a career.”
He relates the job possibilities to those of traditional sporting events. Jones hopes to add to their esports scholarships by adding some of those career paths scholarships to, hopefully, air a proper broadcast for all of their matches.
For more on the Drury esports program, click here.