In tradition sports, at least in North America, a path for aspiring athletes exists where they can use their prowess at a sport to pursue higher education by attracting the attention of a University, which awards them a scholarship. For aspiring professional eSports players, however, that is almost unheard of. This situation is slowly changing, mostly because of the efforts of former alumni who make it big in the real world while also having an interest in eSports. The University of Toronto is no different, as its alumnus, Victor Xin, established a scholarship for a young adult who has an interest in eSports.
In a statement on the University of Toronto’s website, Xin, managing partner at a Toronto-based investment firm Athena Capital Partners, said: “We should reward leadership attributes no matter how they manifest themselves. I want to help students who pursue leadership and personal development but go about it a different way.” Any candidate for the scholarship established by Xin will have to have a GPA of 3.5, while also demonstrating a passion for eSports. The scholarship, due to be awarded in 2018, seems to cover a single person, so it’s more than likely that the first awardee will be a player of an individual game or someone who’s interested in the behind-the-scenes aspect of eSports.
According to the same announcement, Victor Xin’s interest in eSports started in University, where he found the offered extracurricular activities lacking so had to make something to do for himself. Apparently, he created an eSports club for the University of Toronto students who were as interested in the scene as he was, even holding the University of Toronto Cyber Games in 2008.
While eSports scholarships are definitely a good thing for people who want to pursue higher education on the back of their passion for eSports, it’s not likely that there is a natural next step towards a professional career as a player for University graduates who took advantage of a scholarship. After all, unlike basketball players who peak in their late twenties and early thirties, eSports players peak in late teens, early twenties, exactly the years they would traditionally spend in an University auditorium. Scholarships like this could be a good way for former professional eSports players to begin their next step in the scene after their playing career is over. After all, while streaming for a living is fun and profitable, the number of people who can make a living by streaming is limited. Not all retired pros have a fan following big enough to support themselves in this way.