College eSports Scholarship Guide: Everything You Need to Know to Secure a Scholarship

eSports Academy Course 111


After so many years of the dichotomy of ‘either play video games or do schoolwork,’ it may seem a bit far fetched that those two activities have merged. How could shooting people online help with school? How could speeding cars and crashing trucks help? How could computer games help? The perspective of parents is probably confounded by the new era. While they are correct in that playing video games doesn’t exactly improve learning, these parents will be surprised to discover that it could make their child’s college education more affordable. The world of eSports has proven such an economic powerhouse that colleges are after that revenue—very few will admit to this reason for developing their eSports programs, though.

Collegiate eSports

Which Colleges Offer Scholarships?

The National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE) is an organization that affirms the varsity eSports teams of over one-hundred-and-fifty schools. While this organization works with these schools, it is not the determining factor of whether or not they offer scholarships. What matters is the budget. Institutions with greater budgets can allocate more resources to their eSports programs. Those with more money after developing their programs can, of course, offer that to prospective student-athletes. We listed some of the most viable options for you here.

How Much Do They Offer?

It varies. Remember: universities use scholarships as a method of persuading talent to visit campus and enroll. The better the player, the higher the amount awarded. But they aren’t desperate; these universities believe that the truly passionate gamers will travel across the world for a chance to earn a scholarship to attend them. The general tendency seems to be that schools will offer something between $500 to $9,000 per year. These scholarships are partial. That means that the eSports coaches or heads of the program may divide and delegate portions of the scholarship budget across their roster. Additionally, numerous universities offer full-tuition (and even full-ride) scholarships. If you are the best of the best, you can get a college degree for free.

What are the Academic Requirements?

College eSports Tryouts 3


It varies. The prerequisites for a scholarship are determined on a school-by-school basis. These scholarships are usually partial and commonly paired with academic scholarships. So, it’s safe to say that good grades and test scores will help. The majority of varsity programs require the maintenance of a 2.5 GPA or higher, which is a bit lenient thanks to eSports not being associated with the NCAA. At the end of the day, what you’re applying to is a school. Should you demonstrate the grades and work ethic of a diligent student, schools may be more generous in their assistance.


How Colleges Find Prospective Athletes

College eSports Tryouts 5


Now, it should be clear that not all colleges ‘search’ for candidates. Many of them wait for the talent to come to them and fill out their forms. The majority of universities with eSports teams have interest forms. There is also a reliance on referrals and emails, but that has become less popular over the years. We don’t know how frequently they do so, but we do know that coaches have monitored major tournaments to find talent. There have even been tournaments where the prize was scholarship money. For the most part, however, schools gain their talent through submissions of their forms. But what is on these prevalent forms?

Typically, it’ll ask for the games of interest and the number of hours played per week. That establishes the baseline of ‘do you excel in the game we want our team to compete in’. For identification, the form will likely ask for a Gamertag, Discordtag, and/or Twitch channel. In some cases, they have also asked for a ID. These forms commonly ask for the primary and secondary roles played, to determine where you might fit into the team. Positions are important. Moreover, colleges may ask for a highlight video, as well. Coaches will watch the Twitch feed and listen to the in-game chat on a Discord chatroom. Of course, directly contacting these coaches is a feasible way of exposing yourself. Alternatively, the NCSA’s Recruiting Network can be used to find potential student-athletes because it is the Recruiting Services Partner of NACE. It would be shrewd to create an online profile (free of cost) as that will greatly increase your exposure.

Advice for the Highlight Reel

What makes this such a fantastic option is that it showcases more than just your gaming skill. Your proficiency with editing might land you a place in the eSports program even if your actual performance doesn’t impress. Commonly, coaches turn to video-on-demand (VOD) on Twitch in order to get an evaluation on potential talent. They don’t have time to watch all of the streams, so they look for the video showcase. It goes without saying that you should enable VOD in order to keep past footage. To do this is easy: go to your Twitch dashboard, click the Settings tab, and check the box labeled “Store Past Broadcasts.” You can use the Video Producer tab to mold your long streams into clips. It’s very important to impress within the very first minute of your video. Include three to five (more, if you have them) clips that show you at the best of your ability. Think like a filmmaker. Insert clips that really show your tactics and approaches to various circumstances. Can they tell what you were thinking? It would be a good idea to include clips where your thought process is visible.

College eSports Tryouts 1


Context is also an important aspect. Your clips should have enough leading up to the big play that the viewer can tell what makes it so great. This can be a few seconds long. This brings us to the next pointer. Tolkien’s trilogy is so fascinating and rich because it shows only a fraction of his expansive legendarium—he gives you just enough information to know that there is more to learn and people love the intrigue of those mysteries. Your video should be similar. Of course, it should show how excellent you are at the game, but it shouldn’t tell the whole story. Do not put all of your cards on the table. If the coaches think you have more up your sleeve, they’ll be more inclined to recruit you. Your highlight video(s) ought to be around two minutes in length. Keep all the rest of your footage, too, because those coaches hooked by the intrigue may ask for more. Give them a few more morsels of your skill, but don’t completely sate their appetite. And don’t let your highlight reels stagnate; constantly update your videos with new clips of epic plays.

Psychological tactics aside, you have to provide basic information that they can document. You might want to record a brief introduction to the video that provides a gamertag, ranking, primary role, high school GPA, graduation year, and maybe a line about what you hope to achieve in your gaming career. Record a conclusion that provides methods of contact: email, phone number, whatever else can get the coaches in touch with you. Finally, publish your highlights. Post them on Twitch, YouTube, and the NCSA recruiting profile that you made for free. Those, in addition to sending your videos to the coaches via forms, will give you optimal exposure.

eSports College Tryouts

College eSports Tryouts 4


Coaches impressed by your VOD and other presented information may invite you to campus. There, you will meet the current team members, if there are any, and then take part in a live tryout. These tryouts are normally held before the school year. This tryout is the way for the coach to see you perform in person and your abilities in a team-based environment. Coaches must evaluate you in person because of all the ways you could ‘boost’ your rankings and fraudulently claim to be talented. So, after they have got a look at your VODs and have listened and taken notes from Discord chatrooms, the coaches will invite you to the tryout.

Firstly, you must be a good fit for the team. Secondly, you must be a good fit for the school. You can think of it as a job interview if you like those sorts of things. For the tryout, you will be slotted into the varsity lineup for a couple of scrimmages to test your performance and communication abilities. Variations are natural, different schools have different preferences, but we have gathered three criteria that are generally looked-for. In-game communication is the foremost of these because this skill goes beyond gaming. Communication is a skill that all colleges hope to refine and so when you come in with spectacular and effective communication, you’re putting yourself one leg ahead of the others. Your callouts must be clear, accurate, and consistent. Vocabulary should be on-point and avoid ambiguity by referencing specific locations or players. The coach will be listening for how you make use of your team. If you’re not a natural talker, you’re not out of luck. Force yourself to speak up, you won’t be punished for trying to issue commands to your teammates.

College eSports Tryouts 2


Teammates are significantly helpful to your tryout. You are the one being tested, and they are there to gauge how well you will play when you’re actually competing as a team. Keep it tight and keep it loud. Keep it tight: fulfill your role in the game, don’t ever let it seem like you’re not pulling your weight. Keep it loud: communicate what you are doing to your teammates and confirm that they are doing their duties, too—always make decisions by consulting your teammates. It may be difficult to find a balance between supporting your teammates and staying in your position. That’s all right. It’s not a high-stakes match. Don’t stress over trying to do every single thing that the coaches would like to see. In the real competitive matches, you won’t be able to hyper-manage every little thing. Engage your team and make sure they are doing their jobs. If anything is unclear, ask for clarification or repetition. That might seem like a flaw to you because you didn’t comprehend right away, but the coach will see your drive to sustain effective communication between teammates.

Your drive should be evident. This isn’t the time to keep some of your cards secret. Give it your all and continually assert a genuine drive to grow and improve. Mistakes and missteps are completely fine, so long as you own up to them and diligently work to remedy them. These players are not your frequent teammates and therefore the coaches will not expect you to work in perfect sync with them. That said, these aren’t casuals and this isn’t solo-queue. Swallow your salt and never place blame anywhere other than yourself. Also, it’s important to not lose heart. If you feel like you’re disappointing because you’re not at your peak performance, it can be easy to sink into negative emotions. Those, in turn, will ruin your performance. Let these emotions pass, sweep them out and actively replace them with positive thoughts. Being supportive and constructive and optimistic is what the coaches want to see and hear. Vocalize your positivity. You get to play with a collegiate varsity eSports team, act like it! A humble player has a chance of earning the favor of the coaches even if they play like trash. Find a way to make it fun – you’ll feel better and you’ll play better.

What Games Can You Earn Scholarships For?

Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA)League of Legends
Heroes of the Storm
First-Person Shooter (FPS)CS:GO
Collectible Card GameHearthstone
SportsRocket League
Real-Time StrategyStarCraft II
FightingStreet Fighter
Mortal Kombat

**List taken from this source.

I'm a Creative Writing-Psychology double major at Butler University, Class of 2021. My closest friends are the leaders of Butler's eSports Team, so I've become very interested in the subject and I'm excited to get involved in it myself. A lover of video games and writing, working with Lineups is the perfect opportunity for me to coalesce these two passions of mine and gain experience writing professionally.

Hot eSports Academy Stories