With international tournaments offering prize pools upwards of one million dollars and gathering players from all corners of the globe, it’s safe to say the world of esports has a firmly established following.
Even Canberra universities have esports clubs, though the stakes aren’t quite so high.
At both ANU and UC, students gather to compete against each other in their preferred video games. League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Rocket League and Super Smash Bros are among the current favourites.
Acting president of the UC Esports Club Benjamin Wu has been helping to introduce a wider Canberra audience to esports. Ben had followed esports since 2016 before becoming involved with the club in 2019, competing as a part of the UC ESports League of Legends team.
“When I started playing League of Legends and found out online that there was a championship for it, I thought it was insane that people were playing games professionally,” he said.
“After I started playing for UC, I wanted to help other people play and have the opportunity to play competitively, so I helped to get some more structure in the club because this was all still relatively new.”
The University of Canberra has had its own esports club since 2020 when it split from the UC Recreation and Entertainment Club (UCREC).
“We split off from UCREC in about 2020, which was great but also unfortunate because COVID arrived the same year. We didn’t know too much about what was going on because running a club was new to us,” Ben said.
Since 2020 the UC Esports Club has worked to bring together people interested in esports and provide a place for them to play their games of choice competitively.
“I really just wanted to help form teams,” Ben said. “A lot of the teams were first-year students who didn’t know each other and used the esports Club to find people to play games with and went from there.
“There’s an increased interest when compared to previous years where you had to scrape people together to go play. Now we sometimes have multiple teams for different games.”
Ben said that ANU and UC regularly compete against each other and enjoy a friendly rivalry.
“Since about 2016 I think we’ve had friendly competition against each other in League of Legends, but this year is the first we’ve actually competed against each other in multiple games,” he said.
“The way I see it is, it’s like traditional sports; everyone is just having fun playing or watching games competitively or casually.”
Ben said Australia has been lagging in the esports arena but things are starting to pick up slowly.
“Esports hasn’t been too popular in Australia but it’s getting there,” he said.
“QUT has started to offer scholarships for esports players under their elite athlete program.
“It’s definitely starting to grow. COVID hasn’t helped unfortunately because people who want to play competitively usually want to be able to meet in person and physically interact. But now that things are opening up, interest is picking back up.”
To find out more about the UC Es
ports club, click here.