Students involved in e-sports hope to gain traction with new sponsorship

Lexington junior Josh Starnes, 20, jokes with Greenville freshman Jared Latham, 18, during the weekly WKU League of Legends club meeting in Downing Student Union. Abby Potter/HERALD

Elisabeth Moore

Amazon Student has recently agreed to sponsor WKU’s League of Legends e-sports team, the WKU Tops.

In its sponsorship, Amazon Student will be providing jersey’s for the team which will be used during tournaments.

Recently, many colleges and universities such as the University of Kentucky and Northern Kentucky University have started their own e-sports teams. Team members play games which can range from League of Legends to Dota 2.

Two years ago WKU started its own League of Legends club, which eventually led to their current five person e-sports team. Recent WKU graduate Oleg Nesterov coaches and shows the club how to play League of Legends, even going as far as streaming with the club during their meetings.

Nick Conrad, Bowling Green senior and president of the club, said he would like to eventually pay graduates to coach their e-sports team since other schools do that as well. Conrad said he would also like to have the club become a sports club, mainly for the funding that they would get and the scholarships they could offer the players of the e-sports team.

Louisville freshman John Hay said the club has around 40 to 50 members, though 20 to 25 show up during their regular meetings, which take place on Tuesdays and Fridays from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. in Downing Student Union room 2004.

Conrad said that the majority of the members the League of Legends club are male.

“There are females that play because when we do tabling and stuff, they will approach us,” Conrad said. “But often, everyone has such a busy schedule that a lot of people that play can’t make it to the club.”

Louisville freshman Emily Anderson is a recent member and one of the few women in the club. She said that being a girl in a predominantly male club doesn’t really bother her.

“I don’t really think about it a lot because my friends from Louisville, including my boyfriend, go here and they are the ones that got me into League of Legends,” Anderson said. “So, it’s just like hanging out with a bunch of guys. It’s never like ‘Oh, she’s a girl, she has to play this,’ or, ‘oh, she’s a girl, she must not be good.’ It’s like, ‘Oh, you play League? What role do you want to play?’”

Members not only practice for competition at their meetings, but also encourage people that are new to the game.

“With new League of Legends players, we try to help them learn how to play,” Conrad said. 

Conrad hopes that the recent interest from sponsors will help the e-sports team define itself as a competitive organization. He would also like to see the exposure increase student awareness of the club.

“Since many of the colleges and universities around here have created e-sports teams, it would be great to have a chance to play against them all,” Conrad said. “We would like to see the club as a student organization where it is more casual play and the team as an athletic organization where it can be competitive.”