Exclusive Interview – Robert Morris University On Offering eSports

About a month ago, we did an article about the first University to offer a video game as a school Varsity sport. If you haven’t already read the article then you can read it here. We at APGNation got the opportunity to have an exclusive interview with Robert Morris Associate Athletic Director and eSports Director Kurt Melcher.

LoL eSports RMU

Q. How did the idea of the school eSport come about, and how long did it take for it to become a reality?

A. The idea came about when I was at home looking up some games I used to play online – Command and Conquer and the first Starcraft. That eventually led me to League of Legends and I was surprised at the scale and the level of interest behind the game. The further I looked, I realized it is a team sport and has many similarities to the sports we offer now.  I started to play League and thought it would be a great addition to our athletic department. I brought the idea to the Athletic Director Megan Smith and we formed the proposal and brought it to the University President Michael Viollt.

I can see us adding other eSport games
 He is a progressive thinker and a visionary in education really, and he decided to bring the proposal to the board and they moved forward with the scholarship and team. I brought the original idea to the Athletic Director in late April and we announced the first eSport Varsity League of Legends team initiative in mid June.

 Q. Why League of Legends? Obviously it’s currently a very popular game, but so are Dota 2, Call of Duty: Ghosts, and Counter Strike: Global Offensive. Why not any of those? 

A. We decided to start with LoL because it is simply the largest MOBA out there at the moment.  While it is the first eSport game that we offer, I can see us adding other eSport games (and I think you bring up some great offerings!) in the near future.

Q. How many members of the team are you expecting to have this coming year?

A. We are hoping to have 30 Varsity LoL and 40 Varsity Reserve players.

Q. Will the school be providing equipment like any other sport (e.g. headsets, gaming glasses, computers, etc.)?

There are 100 plus Universities
A. Robert Morris University is in the early stages of building out the first Varsity level eSport Arena on campus. This eSport specific location with house upwards of 35 gaming systems with top level gaming equipment for the eSport athletes to practice and compete with.  We are partnering with some great eSport and technology companies. eSport athletes will receive training gear and uniforms just like our traditional sports.

Q. How competitive are you planning on being with this team? Obviously, there are no other schools to compete against yet, but will your team take on MLG teams?

A. There are schools to compete against!  We plan on joining the Collegiate Starleage and the IVYLoL league. In each league there are 100 plus Universities that are already competing in LoL. Those teams are made up mostly of club-level based interest and we hope to have a competitive advantage by being the first Varsity team to join.

Q. Is there a coach on your staff that will be aiding the student’s abilities?

A. Yes.  We have hired Ferris “AGeNT” Ganzman as our LoL coach.  He has been involved with League for a number of years as an analyst for teams.  He has worked with Lemondogs and some of the Cloud 9 players.

Q. What do you anticipate as far as pushback from the National Collegiate Athletics Association, and have you had any already?

A. The NCAA or NAIA don’t have any impact on our eSport program as they don’t govern the sport.

This is an awesome insight to what’s going on out there in eSports, and obviously we all appreciate Kurt’s time that he would give us for an interview. If you’re interested in checking out Robert Morris University (or maybe now you want to look at admissions), their website is here, and specifically the sports section of the website is here for more information about what all they’re doing.

What other game news are you excited about? What do you think about a University with an eSports program. Let us know in the comments section or on our Twitter @APGNation.

Daniel Jauch
Written by
I have a huge passion for games and the excitement of finding what heroes you like to play. I believe in everyone there's a little gamer that wants that adventure and interactivity, so I do what I can to connect people to that inner-hero.

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