UMSL getting into the game, launching an Esports program

Published: Jan. 19, 2023 at 7:10 PM CST
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ST. LOUIS (KMOV) - Freshmen at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, Latrice Wilson and Janei Jackson, had no idea their school launched an Esports program Thursday, but to them it made sense.

“I know it is a big market and it’s growing, and it would create a lot of opportunities for UMSL,” said Jackson.

“These people actively go at it,” said Wilson.

For those that don’t know, Esports is organized and competitive video game playing and can be done on laptops, Xbox, PlayStation or Nintendo systems.

The announcement came at a press conference at the school’s student center with St. Louis City SC. In that same building, they have big plans.

They’re putting in 25 gaming consoles in hopes of attracting the best.

“In many Esports programs it’s in a small room like this, 12 computers and they compete virtually, we want them to be able to compete virtually but also host competitions across our campus,” said Reggie Hill, vice chancellor for enrollment at UMSL.

A slow but steady rise in popularity is why Hill wanted to get involved in Esports.

“It will bring a level of competitiveness across the institution by recruiting some of the most competitive Esports players across the country,” said Hill.

While the school doesn’t know what conference they’ll be in yet, they join the likes of Maryville and the University of Missouri, which already have teams.

When the competition starts, you might be seeing Wilson and Jackson in attendance.

“Maybe one day if they have a Nintendo Switch tournament with Mario Kart, I will be back there,” said Wilson.

“Unless they’re playing Fortnite, I don’t know what type of games they play, but if they play Fortnite I’m there,” said Jackson.

The next step for the Esports program is hiring a coach to go out and recruit some players. They hope they can start the program by this summer.

UMSL will also be the presenting partner of St. Louis CITY SC’s ‘EMLS’ Esports team. The school’s logo will be on the team’s kit.