As the first university in Oklahoma to offer esports as an official university activity, Rogers State University is a trailblazer in competitive gaming.
But what is esports?
“Esports is competitive video gaming, during which, participants work individually and in teams,” said RSU esports coach Holden Craig. “What I tell our recruits is that it’s another form of a sports program. Basically, it’s athletics, it’s just online.”
Although his title is “coach,” Holden oversees the bulk of the esports program, managing its 10 competitive teams, helping them prepare for competitions, running practices and scrimmages, setting up the games, and working with the media team.
“I produce a live broadcast every night online, for which I train the student commentators and the producers, as well as recruit full-time since we offer scholarships to high school students.”
Since it was introduced to the curriculum in 2018, esports has only gained popularity amongst students, with roughly 80 students who have an active role in the program.
“There are several roles within the program. They can be a varsity starting, a substitute, they can be on the media team, and we’ve got a great game development program,” he said. “As far as the competition goes, students can learn about coaching, management and sports psychology, as many teams have full-time sports psychologists on staff – even cybersecurity and athletics. There are a lot of options available to students who become part of the program.”
Teams compete in the National Esports Collegiate Conference (NECC), with RSU’s Valorant Blue (team) making it to the Championship for the Emergents Pacific Frontier Division this semester, falling to second-seeded Colorado College in three matches, including two that went into overtime.
“This was our highest-level appearance in the NECC Finals since winning the NECC Navigators division championship in fall 2021,” Craig said.
Other highlights of the esports program this season include RSU Overwatch becoming the Oklahoma Association of Collegiate Esports (OACE) Overwatch 2 state champions, and both RSU’s Rocket League and RSU Valorant making it to the final four of the OACE playoffs. RSU had seven players make the OACE all-star teams, the most of any program in the league this season.
The esports facilities at RSU are located in Herrington Hall and open to students 24 hours a day. Tiered seating is available for spectators to watch competitions.
For additional information about Rogers State University’s esports program, visit www.rsu.edu/esports.
For information about bachelor’s degree options in esports or game development, visit www.rsu.edu/infotech.