BEEVILLE, Texas — What is E-Sports?
It's a growing sport where athletes can play a variety of video games in organized leagues and tournaments. It’s growing fast, and is now in the Coastal Bend.
It’s the first school year Coastal Bend College has an E-Sports team and in the first semester, they already found success. The first team comprised of 19 student-athletes.
“I mean, it was a little shaky," said Jake Rosenbaum, a freshman on the team that plays Call of Duty: Vanguard. "Everything was still getting worked out. There were still a lot of things that still had to be sorted. But honestly, the fact that a lot of us still made playoffs first semester, I was super excited about it.”
“I wake up, (there's) an email from Coastal Bend (College) saying 'hey you want to go to college?'" Brenton Brookehart, another freshman team member who primarily plays Super Smash Bros., said. "And here I am participating in the inaugural season. I made it to the playoffs in my first season.”
Not only did many make the playoffs, but sophomore Owain Parker was crowned a national champion in FIFA, a soccer video game.
“It’s a new program, but the foundations are there for it to be very, very big," Parker said in a phone call while still home in England. "It’s the same with every other program at CBC. They’re always pushing to make people the best they can be.”
“For that to be in the first year, it’s just like he just came in and was dominant from the beginning it seems like," first-year coach Brenden Wardlaw said.
Now the team has Wardlaw to take the team to the next level. He just completed three years as the captain of his college E-Sports team at Davenport University.
“This is my first time running a program," he said. "So, I think that just in itself, is super exciting. I get to come to a program; I get to bring my competitive side.”
The lucrative business of E-Sports has helped grow it’s popularity. Professional athletes can make millions with the highest earner making over $7 million. By comparison, the largest contract in Major League Soccer is $6.3 million.
"I’m a long way from there right now, but seeing what they can do and just how talented they are at the game; it’s inspiring to watch," Brookeheart said.
Wardlaw said the team played Call of Duty, Super Smash Bros. and FIFA. He wants to add League of Legends, Overwatch, Rocket League and more this semester. Each game can run year round.
“It’s up to the developers of the game - who they want to give the rights to - to be able to allow tournaments to be ran," Wardlaw said. "So, there’s a lot of leagues. When I was at Davenport playing Rocket League, we were doing up to seven leagues at one time.
Coastal Bend College is actively recruiting for more athletes to join the E-Sports team and scholarships are available. You can contact Coach Wardlaw here.