UD Gets into Esports Craze with New Arena, Varsity Gaming Team

University of Delaware launched its new Esports varsity team in a new state-of-the-art arena

Video gaming – AKA “Esports” – is undoubtedly hot, with massive and growing appeal among young people who turn out by the thousands for major events in big league arenas across the globe.

The multi-billion-dollar industry has hundreds of millions of fans and players, and institutions of all kinds – including universities – want a piece of the action.

That includes the University of Delaware, which cut the ribbon on a new state-of-the-art Esports arena on the first floor of the Perkins Student Center on Friday. The facility will be home to UD’s first-ever varsity gaming team who will do battle with other schools across the country, joining the more than 300 schools that have competitive teams.

University of Delaware President Dennis Assanis officially opens the new UD Esports Arena. Photo – Evan Krape

“I think it’s amazing. I know this is really a big monumental thing for the East Coast, and speaking with other friends who go to different universities, this really sets us apart,” said sophomore Emma Lewis, the only woman on the Varsity Esport team. Lewis, a 2018 Wilmington Friends School grad and Wildlife Ecology major at UD, is the team manager. “I have a lot of people have shown interest in coming to the school since hearing about this new team, my brother included. So I think it’s a really big initiative.”

Emma achieved a high skill rating playing “Overwatch” as a member of one of UD’s two gaming clubs – high enough to earn the chance to try out for the team. The 35-member varsity team will compete in four esports titles — Rocket League, Hearthstone, League of Legends and Overwatch — and will practice 10 hours a week.

Emma Lewis, the Varsity Esport team’s only female, graduated from Wilmington Friends School in 2018

The arena is open and free to the UD community where gamers can access 25 games including the popular titles Fortnite, League of Legends and Rocket League. 

The school says the “competitive program and dedicated faculty” will build school pride but also equip students with valuable, practical skills applicable in a range of careers including software design, event planning, business development and marketing and communications.


“Gaming requires critical and creative thinking, teamwork and problem-solving, leadership, strategic planning and analytical processing,” said Steve Kramarck, associate director of Student Life at University of Delaware.

Already there are more than 450 members in the Video Gaming Tournament Club and an additional 450 members in the Casual Gaming Club.

In 2015, the University created a game studies minor that has more than quadrupled in size in five years. UD leaders say they are pursuing the implementation of a new gaming major for potential roll-out in fall 2021. 

The Arena

  • 1800 square feet
  • 33 high-performance HP Omen PCs
  • Comfortable competition chairs
  • Strategy room for team meetings, video review and training workshops
  • Broadcast booth
  • Stage for competition play


UD Esport Teams

Starting this Spring, UD will compete in four Esports titles — Rocket League, Hearthstone, Overwatch, and League of Legends. These teams will practice, strategize, and compete in the new Esports Arena. Players will be supported with part-time coaches, leadership development programs, nutritional counseling and more. 

A high-tech broadcast booth integrates multiple camera views and microphones for student “shoutcasters” to provide live play-by-play entertainment during matches. Photo – Evan Krape

Delaware Esports will be competing in several national leagues including the Electronic Gaming Federation (EGF), TESPA, and Collegiate Starleague. UD teams have already had strong showings in fall and winter tournaments. Matches will be broadcast live in the arena and also streamed on Twitch and YouTube. 

More info: https://sites.udel.edu/usc/Esports


Esports Industry

The competitive gaming industry has grown exponentially over the past few years. According to analytics firm Newzoo, Esports generated $1.1 Billion in revenue in 2019, a 26.7% increase over the prior year.

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About the Contributor

Christy Fleming

Christy Fleming

The managing editor of TownSquareDelaware.com, Christy Fleming also supports a variety of non-profit initiatives in Delaware. Her background includes positions in public relations, advertising and journalism.