The University of Victoria is exploring new horizons when it comes to intercollegiate competitions and is set to participate in Canada’s first-ever post-secondary esports event.
Vikes gamers will have the opportunity to take part in an upcoming online gaming competition as part of the new Canadian Collegiate Esports League (CCEL), alongside 12 other Canadian institutions.
The event itself will be a Rocket League tournament on May 29, however, it will mark a significant milestone as UVic explores unfamiliar territory with esports.
According to the university, intramural coordinator Joni Richardson has been looking for ways to engage the Vikes community as in-person competitions have been put on pause amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
She said that her research led her to discover the world of competitive online gaming, which has resulted in Vikes Esports.
Vikes Esports is currently labelled as a student-led program under Vikes Recreation that carries a goal of “building a community of gamers across campus” that will help vault UVic into the world of esports.
“As an intramural department, we are familiar with the love of traditional sport and in-person connection. I am new to esports and needed a group of students to help provide direction and advocacy for the programming so I created an advisory of UVic students to actively participate in a three-year plan for esports,” said Richardson.
“From there, we discussed the need for an intercollegiate league within Canada; a way to play other students from other institutions, for Canadians by Canadians at a collegiate level.”
With most esports leagues based in the states and legal roadblocks presenting a challenge, Richardson wound up connecting with the right people in order to help create a league within our own borders.
“I was fortunate to connect with the GYO Score team, who walked me through what it takes to build a program from scratch. Collaborating with the traditional sport programmers across the country led to the development of a task force and under the guidance of Herena Data to create the CCEL,” said Richardson.
The Canadian Collegiate Esports League was established on March 14 and is described as “a competitive video gaming league in partnership with Canada’s most forward-thinking universities.”
Richardson says that Vikes recreation has added 300 students that were not using any of their services prior to the esports option and they’ve created a Discord that has grown to 500.
“Esports is an opportunity to share the Vikes values with more students on and off-campus and a way for us to connect and engage these athletes in a different way,” she adds.
According to Vikes Recreation, esports has been a part of the conversation for a while, however, the pandemic accelerated the need to explore these virtual programs.
Richardson says that the upcoming Rocket League tournament is just the beginning and that Vikes Esports will be looking to expand its current offerings regularly moving forward.
“The long-term goal is to eventually send teams to compete across Canada and offer competitive scholarships for esports athletes,” reads a statement from Vikes Recreation.
The tournament on May 29 will provide the first opportunity for schools to square off “for reputation and prizes.”
Below is a list of post-secondary institutions that are currently a part of the CCEL:
- University of Victoria
- University of Alberta
- University of Windsor
- Dalhousie University
- Holland College
- Mount Royal University
- York University
- McGill University
- Simon Fraser University
- University of Regina
- Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
- University of Lethbridge
- University of British Columbia Okanagan
- University of Manitoba