ESports is on the rise at Georgia State

A student plays League of Legends in Georgia State’s ESports lab, located in the CMII on the Atlanta campus. Photo by Kaitlyn Harmon | The Signal

Georgia State’s esports program was established in 2017. The program was inspired by a worldwide gaming phenomenon. Even before the launch of the esports program, the school had had a strong gaming culture.

Groups such as Panther Gaming, which was the original home for gamers at Georgia State, reached out to help launch the program. Since the launch of the program, the esports platform has seen massive growth and prominence.

The reasons behind the quick rise of esports at Georgia State include both the large student body of the school and the already built-in gaming culture of the city. As Georgia State has continued to expand, so has the number of students who have a vested interest in gaming and gaming competitions.

Atlanta has also been at the forefront of the esports popularity boom around the country. The Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center sold out its 4,500-capacity arena entertaining the masses with the local esports team, the Atlanta Reign. The player development coach for the Atlanta Reign, Van Endel, was amazed by the turnout.

“If you can sell out arenas like [the Performing Arts Center] … there’s a very good future,” Endel said.

Esports has grown from entertaining a once niche following to what is today a billion dollar gaming juggernaut. The rise of esports has become a worldwide phenomenon, with major competitions, such as the Overwatch and Fortnite World Cups, happening all around the globe.

As a result of its meteoric rise, the esports field has also attracted big name investors, such as Michael Jordan, Sean “Diddy” Combs and Jerry Jones.

Georgia State Esports Program Coordinator Lucas Bailey has been with the program since its inception and has witnessed these developments on campus and around the globe. Since the program’s initial launch, the response from the student body has been nothing but positive, Bailey said.

“We’ve had a huge number of students get involved, with a large number of students come out and tryout for varsity teams and participate in events,” he said.

Georgia State’s esports teams compete in a number of tournaments with other Georgia-based and national colleges.

One of the major competitions that Georgia State hosts is the PantherLAN competition. PantherLAN occurs twice a year and is the annual competition at Georgia State. As many as eight different game competitions take place, and the event serves as the main exposition for gamers. 

Bailey has also seen the Georgia State student body show out more and more each year.

“We are regularly adding new games and new player slots, as well as looking to expand our rosters of events for student engagement,” he said. 

The current esports platform consists of five main games. League of Legends, Overwatch, Smite, Paladins and Hearthstone each field teams of gamers. These five games and League of Legends, especially, are typically the most popular when it comes to esports competitions. 

As the program continues to grow and develop, the rise in student involvement is sure to take the program and its many teams to new heights.