LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) – A Polk County college is taking competition to a new level — a virtual level.
Florida Southern College is adding eSports to its athletics program.
That means the athletes won’t be competing on any field or court, rather strictly online.
“In high school I was an athlete, I wrestled and played football, so this is good to have competition back,” sophomore Garrett Bennett said.
Bennett is in the top 1-2 percent of League of Legends gamers in the country.
“Over the last year, I got into the top 1 percent. It just varies between how many people are playing each month, but I’m getting up there in the ladder,” Bennett said.
Now the music theatre and accounting major is hoping to make Florida Southern College’s new eSports team, playing competitive video games against other teams nationwide.
“It’s fun just having that competition, just knowing you’re getting better and better,” he said.
The eSports program will be focused initially on the video game League of Legends, which is played by teams of five and is popular in competitive college gaming.
FSC will soon have a special arena with state-of-the-art gaming units, wiring infrastructure, monitors, headsets and sophisticated ergonomic chairs for the competitors. There will also be space for spectators to watch the FSC team as it competes.
“I never thought I’d be standing here talking about eSports in terms of athletics but when you think outside the box, there’s a strategy, there’s teamwork, it all fits in,” FSC Athletic Director Pete Meyer said.
The FSC program will begin as a club sport under the Office of Student Development, with tournaments already scheduled for the Spring.