WVU set to launch esports team and minor

MORGANTOWN — West Virginia University is preparing to launch a new competitive team and offer a new minor to it’s broad curriculum.

Starting next fall, WVU will offer esports as a 15 credit minor, with goals of establishing a Mountaineer esports team. Esports, video games played in highly organized and competitive environments, is expected to be offered on all three of WVU’s campuses in Morgantown, Beckley, and Keyser.

“Honestly anything that can be competitive,” said WVU Director of Esports and Esports Head Coach Josh Steger. “For our purpose, we’re normally playing Tier One games, Tier Two games, so simulated games like Madden, all the way to fantasy games like League of Legends to games that incorporate a little bit of sports and car action like Rocket League,” he said.

In offering the esports minor, any West Virginia University student wishing to gain knowledge on the subject will be able to take classes in the various aspects of esports. Steger, stated that these will range from actually competing in an esports environment, to learning different aspects such as marketing and team management. These offerings, are expected to not only bring new and unique classes to WVU students, but also offer students skills that be applied in the workforce post-graduation.

“Industry jobs, so your’re talking about my job as a coach and director, we’re talking about managing professional teams, even your day to day, there’s all these esports operations and gaming boards and tournament providers, they need those creative minds,” he said.

In the development of the Mountaineer esports team, Steger stated on WAJR’s Talk of the Town that offering an esports minor, will help with the recruitment of students willing to compete on a collegiate level. Despite esports being in it’s early stages of being cemented at West Virginia University, players are already showing interest and in the case of nationally recognized esports player and WVU student Noah Johnson, is already competing for the school in tournaments.

“He’s great,” said Steger describing Johnson. “He’s already competing right now so we have our rubber neck championships that we’re currently in, he is representing us, for West Virginia, in the Big 12, he’s already taken down Oklahoma, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State, and we’re currently waiting in the winner’s bracket until next week,” he said.

Steger, says that he hopes the Mountaineer esports team will be fully developed the same time esports classes officially start next fall. In the meantime, he plans to continue garnering interest for the esports team within the WVU student body and fielding a team that can compete against other Big 12 Conference schools aside from one person. While still in it’s infant stages, esports at WVU appears to be trending upwards into being a solidified opportunity at the university.

“This is just a start, this I like to call the infant stage of esports right now,” said Stenger. “There is still a lot more that can come from this and there are a lot more universities that are trying to figure out how they can engage on what esports is currently,” he said.