SD Mines Athletics Adds First Official Esports Program in South Dakota

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The South Dakota School of Mines and Technology Athletics Department is adding an official esports varsity team, the first in the state of South Dakota.

The official SD Mines esports team will start with a varsity League of Legends team.

“This will be the 14th sport added to the SD Mines Athletics Department. Our plan is to build a program that is respected and held to the same standards as any other sports program here. These are uncharted waters, but that's why it's so exciting," says Joel Lueken, SD Mines Athletics Director.

Beginning fall 2018, the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology Athletics Department is adding a new team to the Hardrocker roster. Esports will be an official competitive sport starting with a varsity League of Legends team.

Esports, also known as Electronic Sports, is a multiplayer video game played competitively. The most common video game genres associated with esports are real-time strategy, head-to-head and multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) formats.

Esports has millions of followers with League of Legends being one of the most popular games. Competitions are broadcast on Twitch.tv, a live streaming video platform and events like the world final match are held in arenas, drawing more viewers than the NBA, NHL and MLB championship games. Like their counterparts in traditional sports, the top professional players earn millions of dollars annually in endorsements and prize winnings.

"We are very excited about this great opportunity to start a competitive collegiate esports program at South Dakota Mines,” said Hardrocker Athletics Director, Joel Lueken. “This will be the 14th sport added to the SD Mines Athletics Department. Our plan is to build a program that is respected and held to the same standards as any other sports program here. These are uncharted waters, but that's why it's so exciting."

SD Mines currently has a student-run esports club with more than 100 members. Just like regular sports, members will have to earn their spot on the varsity team and will be eligible for scholarships. SD Mines expects to hire a program director responsible for managing the team and planning events and tournament participation.

SD Mines e-athletes will play against other collegiate esports teams from around the nation in online matches. Hardrocker e-athletes compete in teams of three to five players. For the individual players, the sport fosters values of cooperation, teamwork and sportsmanship that are essential for success in any competitive event.

“We are thrilled to be the first university in South Dakota to offer a varsity esports program. Students are already playing video games competitively and now we can offer them the opportunity to hone their skills and play at a higher level. We also plan to add academic courses and a possible certificate program related to esports,” said SD Mines President Jim Rankin.

Esports can also have an impact and value for a university in the same way as traditional athletic events and teams. The activity can draw interest in a university, build a name for the school, and attract an alumni base to fund future scholarship money for E-athletes.

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Brad Blume
South Dakota School of Mines and Technology
since: 04/2008
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