Whoever said playing competitive video games is a waste of time should probably talk to Derek Micheau. If he graduates by May next year, he’d be the first ever American to graduate with an eSports scholarship.
Derek “West Coast Carry” Micheau is a 22-year-old, Robert Morris University of Chicago student. The university was the first school in the USA to include gaming in its varsity scholarship and he was one of the main recruits last 2014. His team finished 2nd place in the 2015 North American Collegiate Championship in Los Angeles. Just this year, they also finished 2nd place in the 2016 University of League of Legends Campus Series Championship in Boston. That last win meant an additional $15,000 scholarship for each member of the 10-player team.
Despite his team’s accomplishment, he wasn’t really a video game player in the past. He spent most of his life playing sports like baseball, football and chess. And he even won several tournaments as a kid. So how did he end up being a League of Legends (LoL) varsity player? Back in senior high school, he injured his shoulder and knee playing baseball. His brother was playing League of Legends and, since his injury prevented him from participating in any kind of sports, he tried gaming. After spending more than 300 days playing League of Legends, he rose into the Top 200 of the game’s ranking.
Derek knows the amount of work, perseverance and effort it requires to achieve success in sports and, in that regard, eSports isn’t that different. “I was pretty terrible at it and tried super hard to get better and it just clicked at one point two or three years ago where everything came together and I got really good.” He understood that eSports required little physical effort but mentally, it is much more exhausting than sports. “Your body is fried, you don’t want to move, you just want to drink water and recover. It’s kind of the same concept [for eSports] but if you transfer all of that pain straight to your head.”, he said.
Our very own Garena LoL Collegiate League (LCL) is pushing aggressively in promoting collegiate eSports by giving out HUGE prizes to the school of the top teams. Any faculty who’ll act as an adviser to the team are also rewarded. LCL’s current roster of 48 teams represents the best and most renowned colleges from all over the country. It is just a matter of time before these colleges realize how serious eSports is and how big it could become with enough support.
I’m excited to see who’ll be the first Filipino eSports scholar would be. Could it be you?