The University of California, Irvine, announced Wednesday that it will become the first public institution to offer scholarships to students who compete in the popular e-sports game League of Legends.
Video game developer Riot Games will "be supporting the move by funding a new PC cafe on campus for all students to use," according to Polygon.com's Philip Kollar.
The school will offer scholarships to 10 students for up to four years apiece. UC Irvine e-sports director Mark Deppe said, per Kollar:
We think e-sports is growing quickly. We expect other schools to follow our lead. UCI is excited to be a leader. We don't think we're going to be the last school to do this. We think we're going to be one of the schools that really encourages particularly public schools and shows them that this is really a viable thing.
Deppe added that UC Irvine hopes to compete in the League of Legends Campus Series, a 32-team league split into four geographic regions that Riot Games runs.
According to the contest's official website, this year's Campus Series Final Four will conclude April 23-24 in Boston, with Robert Morris University, the University of British Columbia, the University of Maryland and Georgia Tech University all competing.
However, Deppe said that he would like UC Irvine to go beyond League of Legends.
"The hope is to expand to other e-sports," Deppe said, per Kollar. "We're interested in expanding what we offer, but I'm not sure what games we would consider. Our school happens to be really good at Super Smash Bros., so I'd be interested in pursuing that."
With UC Irvine's scholarship program set to start this fall and the campus' new PC cafe likely to attract some of the top e-sports talent from across the country, the school should have no problem establishing itself as one of the nation's best in collegiate gaming.