by Ankit Banerjee
The Ontario government announced the launch of a new scholarship in the province for post-secondary students in esports and esport-related programs, like Seneca’s Esports Marketing Management course. The Esports Scholarship program will have $1 million available over the next two years for students in game design and development, marketing, and other related fields of education.
Here at Seneca, the esports club has more than 900 members on its Discord server, with students able to join and play League of Legends, Valorant, Smash Brothers and more. Steven Nguyen founded the club four years ago to build a community where it wasn’t just about playing big prize money tournaments but to hang out.
He is now the Esports Administrator at Seneca and is also on the advisory committee for the Esports Marketing Management graduate certificate course. Nguyen says that the scholarship legitimizes the esports industry and provides an easier way for students to break into this relatively new field. He says:
“I would always hear people want to get into the esports industry, but they don’t know how. But in reality, the esports industry has many different opportunities, for example, marketing. So, it’s not just gaming. It’s lots of different disciplines in it as well.”
Esports is growing exponentially across the globe, with massive tournament prize pools on offer with some of the world’s most popular games. The International 2021 tournament for the game Dota 2 had a prize pool of $40 million. The 2019 Fortnite World Cup Finals had a prize total of $30.4 million, with the winners raking in $3 million each. The winners of the previous PUBG, Call of Duty, and League of Legends have all received more than a million dollars in prize money in the last few years.
Of course, invites to these international tournaments are reserved for the best professional esports players and teams worldwide. There are plenty of opportunities to start locally, though. The Ontario Esports League is the go-to for amateur gamers, providing them with a platform to hone their skills and gain the attention of professional teams. At the college level, Ontario Post-Secondary ESports is an excellent way for college and university teams to fight it out in tournaments, with winners receiving a $30,000 scholarship.
Ontario is home to a Canada-leading 298 video game companies and supports more than 55,000 full-time jobs in the province. The rapidly growing gaming industry contributed $5.5 billion to Canada’s economy in 2021, a 29% increase from 2019. According to Statista, more than 61% of Canadians identify as gamers. When announcing the new scholarship, Jill Dunlop, Minister of Colleges and Universities, said:
“This investment will help students pursue their passion and prepare for careers in the highly lucrative video game and esports sector, and to develop transferable skills valued by employers across countless industries.”
The government says that scholarships will be available to students this Fall.