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Message: St. Clair College esports team holds tryouts, scholarships offered to top video gamers
College's Saints Gaming team offers scholarships to players based on their skill level
CBC News Posted: Jan 04, 2018 6:49 AM ETLast Updated: Jan 04, 2018 6:49 AM ET
Students are trying out for the Esports team at St. Clair College. (Meg Roberts/ CBC News )
In a small study room that was recently converted into the 'training room,' several St. Clair College students sit in front of monitors playing video games. In the upcoming days students are trying out for the college's esports team.
And for top players, the payoff could be big.
"We are looking to see if there is any new talent that we didn't catch in the first semester to see if we can bring in some new faces," said Shaun Byrne, esports Director for Saints Gaming.
This is Saints Gaming's second semester operating as a varsity team. St. Clair College was the first school in Canada with a competitive video game — or esports — team.
Players sit in a room called "the nest" which is where the team trains. (Meg Roberts/ CBC News )
Although the games takes place online, the team competes like any other athletic program at the college. Students have to try out for the squad and they are expected to keep their marks up while on a very busy training schedule.
"You get treated the same way as any of the traditional sports varsity athletes on campus," said Byrne. "We give them scholarships, send them to tournaments and they represent their school on a North American scale."
"Being a college student — money is tight so having a varsity scholarship and being able to do something you really like and really enjoy doing and being paid to do it ... I find really awesome," - Matthew Hughes, first-year nursing student
The St. Clair team is made up of 35 students who are split into seven teams. Each team plays a different video game. Last semester, two out of the seven teams placed in the top 20 of 300 North American esports teams, which far exceeded the leagues expectations.
Matthew Hughes, a first year nursing student, was on the team last semester and has hopes to make it again this time. He said like any other varsity sport, the commitment "is kind of demanding."
But the scholarship is worth it.
"Being a college student — money is tight so having a varsity scholarship and being able to do something you really like and really enjoy doing and being paid to do it ... I find really awesome," he said.
Matthew Hughes is trying out for the team for the second semester in a row. Every player gets a Jersey with their real name and video game username. Hughes' username is "Huggies".
Scholarships are offered to players based on their skill level and range from $500 a semester to a full ride.
Hughes said along with the financial help, he likes the social aspect of the sport and has made a lot of friends through being on the team.
"They're putting in as much work as other [varsity] players … eventually it will become a normality," - Ethan Sinclair, Saints Gaming coach
His coach, Ethan Sinclair, said the program proves video games don't have to be isolating and players are able to build relationships through the team setting.
"It's bringing them a way to come together as a team and be there physically with each other … first bumping after you get an incredible play," said Sinclair.
Sinclair, who used to play before coaching the team, makes sure the players are training hard, are focused, and on time to their games and practices.
"They're putting in as much work as other [varsity] players … eventually it will become a normality," he said.
Saints Gaming has plans to travel to Montreal, Toronto and Michigan for tournaments in the upcoming semester.
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