While many universities offer esports scholarships, few have turned professional gaming into an actual course of study. But, there's now a college in China teaching the next crop of competitors.
Lanxiang Technical School launched its program in September, according to the South China Morning Post. About 50 students signed up. During the first year, they work on improving their skills in popular esports games like League of Legends, Overwatch, and Counter-Strike. They also get theoretical lessons on how to succeed within the industry. After the first year, they're divided up. The best gamers focus on going pro, while others learn to become event organizers, promoters, or coaches.
School tuition costs about 13,000 yuan (around $2,050 USD), but players who join the school team don't have to pay. Lanxiang Technical says it eventually wants to tutor up to 1,000 esports students.
"At first, many parents thought it was just about playing video games," school director Rong Lanxiang tells SCMP. "In fact, it's not the case. Esports is developing to a very high degree and it's become an economic growth driver."
Market research firm Newzoo says the global esports economy will grow to an estimated $905.6 million in the coming year. The global audience will reach 380 million, and 53 percent of esports enthusiasts will come from the Asia-Pacific region. China in particular is a booming esports economy, Newzoo says, with estimated revenues of $164 million in 2018 and a total audience of 125 million.
"China is notable for the growing popularity of mobile esports, including casual titles," Newzoo senior market analyst Jurre Pannekeet writes. "For example, the Global Final of The Battle of Balls Professional League attracted an audience of 13,000 in Shanghai and 5 million viewers on various Chinese live streaming platforms."