Augustana esports program hoping for early growth

Already there’s been a big demand for esports teams in South Dakota, and the newest one at Augustana is hoping to grow quickly.
Published: Jan. 20, 2023 at 9:12 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Esports programs are quickly popping up at high schools and colleges all across the country. Already there’s been a big demand for teams in South Dakota, and the newest one at Augustana is hoping to grow quickly. The university’s administration is hoping to catch onto that popularity.

“They found that this is such a huge activity all around the country, all around the world really, at the collegiate level, and even at the high school level. It’s such a huge, new activity that they really wanted to be a part of it.” Program Coordinator Jake Mahowald said.

After the program’s first tryouts their League of Legends team has eight members: five starters and three substitutes. Those competing are looking to turn what’s been a hobby into something more serious.

“In high school, I kind of figured it was just a hobby. I never thought I was going to go anywhere with it. Then I got here, and figured out that I could play competitively, and be on a team. It was really eye opening, really exciting.” Esports member Dillon Cassady said.

“After I had seen the announcement that was put on the Discord, I’m eager to join the esports team.” Esports member Jiachen Tu said.

The world of esports is only growing. Mahowald said soon, almost every college and university will be looking to host their own program with multiple teams as the industry grows.

“Already at the world championship this year, 5.5 million viewers worldwide. 30,000 people in the stadium. I was just reading, I think by the end of this year, Esports nationwide is going to become a two billion dollar a year industry.” Mahowald said.

Mahowald said even though esports may look different from traditonal athletics from the outside, they’re really one in the same in their target goals and accomplishments. Certainly that means looking to win. But also by offering students already on campus the opportunity to be on a team, and learning discipline and working together to achieve those goals.

“You start to include those students and form communities around video gaming. You give them the opportunity to really prove themselves and chase a very specific goal.” Mahowald said.

The program has its first competitive matches in just about a week. Augustana will be one of hundreds of colleges competing in the National League of Legends tournament, and Mahowald said they hope to add more games to compete in soon.