Posted on 4/16/20 by Mike Skovan on behalf of Northeastern Athletics.
BOSTON – Northeastern University will become the first New England area Division I institution to add Esports as a varsity program. In the first year of competition, the Huskies will add four teams in Overwatch, League of Legends, Rocket League and Hearthstone.
“We felt the timing was right to add Esports as an intercollegiate sport at Northeastern University,” said Jeff Konya, director of athletics and recreation. “The interest in competitive gaming across the country is skyrocketing among teens and our Esports club teams have proven to be some of the best in the country. This addition to our athletics brand will expand our engagement opportunities and utilize an emerging market for strategic recruitment.
“I want to thank President Aoun for his visionary leadership, as well as Chancellor Henderson, Vice Chancellor Madeleine Estabrook and our Director of the Esports platform Nick Avery for helping to bring this excellent opportunity to fruition.”
The competitive gaming industry is a billion dollar market with 495 million viewers, and that number is expected to increase on a yearly basis. Northeastern’s club teams captured the Rocket League national championship in 2017, placed in the top four in the Collegiate Rocket League Eastern Division in 2018, and continued to be one of the top teams in the northeast in 2019-20. The Huskies tallied a second-place finish in Hearthstone at the National Varsity Division this past spring.
“We have seen this program grow rapidly over the last few years at Northeastern and from there they have succeeded on a national level,” said Nick Avery, Associate Director of Club Sports and Esports. “We were blown away when we saw that the national championship for League of Legends had a larger viewership than the Super Bowl.”
The Huskies will open up varsity competition in the fall 2020 in addition to club sport and recreational opportunities and will look to become the flagship Esports institution on the East Coast. The current platform supports several hundred participants already and the Huskies have a dedicated facility inside SquashBusters Center with state-of-the-art equipment.