Calling all Kontrol Freeks: Video game company to begin offering scholarships for esports

The logo for Kontrol Freek. (Photo courtesy of KontrolFreek.com)

The national growth of electronic sports continues as KontrolFreek announces the first scholarships available to any collegiate eSport players.

Electronic sports, or eSports, is competitive multi-player video gaming. Players take their game beyond just playing for fun, by playing in a competitive environment against other gamers. 

KontrolFreek, a video gaming hardware company, will be offering 10 $2,000 scholarships to undergraduate students that are active members of a collegiate eSports team. Students playing in leagues like University League of Legends, Texas eSports Association, and Collegiate Star League teams will be eligible to apply according to a KontrolFreek press release.

The scholarship is open to United States and Canadian students at any school, competing in any game, according to the press release.

An organization or team is recognized for the scholarship if they are representing their university in a game. This will be verified through website links, faculty sponsorship, and documentation of competitions, KontrolFreek public relations specialist Julia Gardial said.

A student's GPA, extracurricular activities, awards and honors will also be considered, according to the press release.

The scholarship is issued by Scholarship Management Services, a division of Scholarship America according to the press release.

The application deadline for the 2016-2017 academic year is May 15. Students interested in applying can submit their applications at www.scholarsapply.org/kontrolfreek.

The global eSports market has exploded over the past five to 10 years, with a projected market of $463 million in 2016, according to a study by market research firm NewZoo.

Riot Games' League of Legends Championship Series, founded in 2013, created the first stable league of professional salaried teams. Teams in the Championship Series compete in five divisions: North America, Europe, Korea, China and Taiwan. The best teams from each region compete in the World Championships.

The 2015 World Championships were watched by over 36 million people worldwide according to lolesports.com, a site that records statistics related to League of Legends. The 2016 Super Bowl viewership was 111.9 million according to statista.com, a statistics site.

Other companies have followed suit. Valve software, the developers of “Counter Strike: Global Offensive and Defense of the Ancients 2” (DotA 2), have created a major system similar to professional tennis. DotA 2 teams compete in three major tournaments, as well as one gigantic event called “The International.” These events feature teams from all over the world.

The viewership for “The International 5” was 4.6 million according to data provided by Valve. This excludes Chinese viewership, where the game is extremely popular.

Starting this summer, Valve has partnered with Turner Entertainment and TBS to bring “Counter Strike: Global Offensive” to live television. Matches will air on television Friday nights starting May 27, according to e-league.com.

At the University of Connecticut, students compete against other schools in three different eSports.

UConn fielded two teams in the LoL Collegiate Star League series, but were unfortunately eliminated in the second round of playoffs according to the CSL website.

UConn CS:GO was unable to make it to the playoffs this season, according to the CSL website.

The UConn DotA 2 team is currently competing in the division one CSL playoff championships.  Their next match is this Saturday Mar. 26 versus Ohio State according to the CSL website.

UConn's Texas eSports Association chapter is currently 43 members strong, according to the chapter's website. 

TeSPA members are eligible to compete in Blizzard Entertainment's Heroes of the Dorm tournament.  Heroes of the Dorm is a Heroes of the Storm tournament with $500,000 in scholarship prizes. UConn's team, the Tricky Turtles, is currently in the top 16, and plays against Ohio State this Saturday March 26. Their games will be streamed at www.twitch.tv/blizzheroes.

“It can be kind of hard to balance scrimmaging and work, but it's just been a lot of fun mostly,” UConn Digital Media and Design major and Tricky Turtles member Adam Weinstein said in an interview Monday.  “I think we're going to win both of our games this weekend though.” 


Jackson Ballenger is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at jackson.ballenger@uconn.edu