Riot Games Has Ivy League Aspirations for College Esports
League of Legends publisher Riot Games has ivy league aspirations. According to Michael Sherman, head of college esports for the company, university-bound gamers will soon be able to pick from Harvard, Stanford, and other top schools to play League of Legends.
The idea of taking college esports to elite universities is not new or sudden. Sherman has six years of experience organizing college esports, four of which have been with Riot Games. He began as a college LoL player himself, at a time when it was nothing more than informal groups of student gamers.
Since 2014, college League of Legends has become a formal competitive network. Sherman says 70 schools now offer scholarships for League of Legends players and he expects that number to grow to 100 by the end of the year.
Sherman says it is just a matter of time before all ivy league schools become involved. He estimates that in the next five years top players will be able to handpick their school from several offers much like regular athletes who play college sports. Right now, collegiate League of Legends is mostly limited to small schools, while bigger schools still consider it a risk.
Sherman’s role at Riot is to move the process along actively. He says he spends his time going to various colleges to speak with their administrators, consulting with colleges on how to start an esports program, and evaluating existing programs. He says the most common advice he gives colleges is to hire a coach.