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Western Michigan University Launches ‘E-Sports’ Initiative

League of Legends College Championship - Opening Round
Photo by Josh Lefkowitz/Getty Images

As part of a pair of new investments, Western Michigan University is set to begin investing in the world of competitive video games.

In a release, WMU President Edward Montgomery announced the pilot effort “Esports@WMU”, which would make the university “one of a relatively small number” to formally sponsor video gaming. The President’s Transformatonal Initiative Fund would provide $250,000 for the project, with those funds being matched by relevant college Vice Presidents.

The goal is to create a gaming facility on WMU campus equipped with 22 stations filled with state of the art technology, to be used for competitions and for potential competitive teams to train and play. The facility is expected to open this fall, and will likely be made available to community groups from Kalamazoo and Southwest Michigan. 

E-Sports is the term for competitive video gaming, where high level players and teams vie for glory and prizes. Popular E-Sports games include “League of Legends”, “Dota 2″, “Counter-Strike: Global Offensive”, and “Overwatch”. These competitions can be quite lucrative; The International “Dota 2″ Tournament in 2017 had a prize pool of over $24 million. 

The other investment announced January 9 is called “Success@WMU”, and is a “large-scale campus commitment” to help students learn in small groups. The program is aimed to help serve all undergraduate students, and provide them a “learning community led by a peer leader”; the learning community will help students who are new to the college, and also provide them will skills that will help ensure success.

President Montgomery funded $818,500 for the program, which will be matched by the leadership in Academic Affairs and other WMU areas.

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