Georgia State’s four-year-old varsity esports program is among the best in the nation, according to a recent ranking by the website BestColleges.
Coming in at No. 7 on the BestColleges list of the “Top 10 Varsity Esports Programs of 2022,” Georgia State ranked higher than programs at the University of California, Berkeley (No. 9), and the University of Texas at Dallas (No. 10).
“All schools on this list operate varsity esports programs that are competitive for prospective players and within their respective leagues,” BestColleges said in a blog post on the rankings. “We also considered factors such as the quality of a school’s gaming facilities, access to esports college scholarships, overall institutional reputation and U.S. News & World Report ranking.”
Founded in 2017 and housed in the Creative Media Industries Institute (CMII), the varsity esports program fields 30 scholarship athletes who compete in a number of popular games, including Smite, Overwatch and League of Legends. In the past two and a half years, the program has won three national championships in Smite, including two from the American Video Game League.
Twice a year, the Georgia State esports program hosts the PantherLAN Tournament, which is co-sponsored by the Georgia Game Developers Association (GGDA) and the National Association of Collegiate Esports. Among the Southeast’s largest esports tournaments hosted by a university, the contest typically attracts 150 to 200 players from 30 to 40 schools across North America and Europe.
“CMII is so proud to house the Georgia State varsity esports program in our facility,” said Brennen S. Dicker, executive director of the institute. “There are approximately 125 collegiate varsity esports teams, and in four years’ time, Georgia State’s varsity esports program has grown to be considered one of the best in the country. The success of our program is due in large part to the tremendous efforts of esports coordinator Lucas Bailey.”
Bailey, who joined the program soon after its formation, said Georgia State esports focuses not just on winning games, but on growing skills and preparing students for the workforce.
“We have the competitive side and the PantherLAN tournament, but we also have several esports classes that are integrated into the program that draw on local companies and local communities,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of different workshops to teach skills to students. We integrate what’s happening in the program into a larger academic scheme.”
— By Michael Davis (B.A. ’03)