A local university is bringing the eSports phenomenon to Hampton Roads. ECPI University in Virginia Beach has officially joined NACE, the National Association of Collegiate eSports. 

eSports are a form of competition using video games. A recent study shows the global eSports audience will reach 380 million this year, growing more than 13 percent every year. There’s even a push to get eSports into the Olympics. And now there’s a team in Hampton Roads. 

“ECPI university has been a long-standing leader in technology in Hampton Roads,” said Mike Glover an eSports coach for ECPI. “So it only makes sense that we’re the only eSports team to compete on the collegiate level in this area.” 

ECPI will compete as the “Rams” and will face up to 87 other colleges and universities across the country. 

Head coach Gerry White is excited for the fall competition season. “We just want to compete on this national stage and at this national level,” said White. “We’ve got some players that are pretty aggressive and I believe we are going to be competitive this year.”

Tryouts for the team will be held June 22 and 23.  Prospective team member Zach Suda says eSports are truly a team effort. 

“You’re relying on everyone around you to know what they need to be doing and you need to know how they play the game in order to work with them,” explained Suda. 

Every player who makes the team will receive a scholarship worth anywhere from $1,000 – $5,000 

The university is also in the process of creating a state-of-the-art lab for the team to practice and compete in. 

“From a gamer’s perspective that lab is going to be phenomenal,” said Glover. “State-of-the-art computers. gaming equipment. nice keyboards, headsets, it’s going to be ready to go.”

Glover also says the skills gained through eSports translate to real world success. 

“Everything from teamwork to sportsmanship to technology, it all transfers into usable skills.” 

Glover also noted the industry itself is just getting started.  

“The future of eSports is really unlimited at this point, we’re at the tip of the iceberg,” said Glover. “It’s growing so fast in my mind I see it competing with Monday Night Football. Where ECPI sits in that is hopefully at the head of a national championship very soon.”