Sacramento State students, alumni play a key role in the growth of the esports industry

Sacramento State students, alumni play a key role in the growth of the esports industry


Members Of The Sac State Relay Team Pose As A Team On Stage At The Recent College Sports International (Cesi) Tournament At The Golden 1 Center In Sacramento.
The second annual College Esports International (CESI) tournament was held Sept. 9-11 at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, where 22 esports teams, including Sac State, competed in League of Legends and Rocket League for $50,000 in prizes.

Pictured (left to right): Anthony Breyer, Garrett Learn, Arthur Erlandson, Peter Kao, Gabe Guerrero, Rafael Lopez and Donna Walters. (By CESI President Gordon Hinkle)

Sacramento State senior Anthony Breyer felt like walking into the technologically advanced Golden 1 Center on a recent Sunday morning.

He and the Sac State sending team waited in the media area before taking the stage to battle players from across the country.

“The whole experience was great,” Breyer, 22, said. “All the players competed on stage, and the game was projected on the big screen. … It was something I had in the back of my mind growing up thinking about what I wanted to do in esports.

“It was great to be able to bring this to fruition.”

More than 20 teams from New York, Oregon and Utah as well as UC Davis and Sac State competed in the second annual competition. College Esports International (CESI) tournament Sept. 9-11 at the downtown Sacramento Arena.

The Sac State League of Legends team took fourth place.

Sacramento State alumni were behind the creation of CESI, a Sacramento-based startup that brings competitive gaming out of education and the fast-growing multibillion-dollar shipping industry.

“Our main goal was to bring the education department to the students to show them the possibilities,” said CESI President and Sac State alumnus Gordon Hinkle. “We want to show them how to use their passion for the game and their passion to pursue a career in the industry.”

Epidemic safety restrictions They will limit the 2021 event to 10 teams and only players will be allowed on stage.

This year, 22 teams playing League of Legends and Rocket League battled for $50,000 in prizes, drawing more than 2,000 in-person spectators and another 5,000 streamers.

Sponsors include the Sacramento Kings professional game team, the Kings Guard Game.

The competition kicked off with a webinar featuring experts from Fortune 500 companies, highlighting the various career opportunities in the industry.

“A lot of times students think they’re not good enough to be a professional,” Hinkle said. “What they don’t realize is that they don’t have to be.

“Sports is a $194 billion industry. More than the movie and music industries combined. They will be delighted to learn that they can work in this environment and use their passion for play.

Career opportunities in esports range from designing games Scream. Esports teams have makeup artists and stylists to prepare competitors to appear on camera.

“There are opportunities for digital marketing, distribution and all kinds of events,” Hinkle said. “All these skill sets that students are getting to love playing are really in demand by Fortune 500 companies.”

Most major universities have an esports club or team, Hinkle said. Many schools offer scholarships to play on their team.

“Big schools in the Pac-12 and conferences across America are now actively seeking high school-aged students to play college games,” Hinkle said.

Sports have grown in popularity over the past two decades, but were especially popular during the pandemic.

“You see a lot of activity online just because students use that as a platform to communicate and connect with people,” Hinkle said. “Even in high school, you see this explosion in video game competition and kids playing games as a way to connect.”

Sac State alumni and MBA student Donna Walters co-founded a recreational esports club and worked with the Big Sky Conference to create an esports league. Sac State Sports Club – a team formed in 2019 under the university’s name – competed in the league’s inaugural conference and finished second.

Walters, who assisted in both CESI competitions Cal State Esports CollectionConnecting esports communities across all 23 CSU campuses.

“We want to give students hands-on learning opportunities using sports to bridge the gap between college and careers, which is their passion,” Walters said. “Connecting students across the state, providing opportunities for them and finding them, gives them a chance to build portfolios to show employers when they graduate.”

Now a senior computer science major, Breyer is weighing his career options and believes his background as an esports competitor will give him a leg up on the job market.

“I haven’t decided, but I hope it will take me somewhere in esports, which is a very broad field,” he said.

Brayer is playing league of legends He has competed in high school since eighth grade and coached the Sac State team at this year’s CESI tournament.

“It’s very engaging,” he said. “There’s not much time off, so it’s a lot of fun.

“I get a lot of satisfaction out of competition in the same way that one gets out of participating in sports or any hobby. Losing is tough, but winning is great, and I love that pursuit.”

About Jennifer K. Morita

Jennifer K. Morita committed to Sacramento State in 2022. A former newspaper reporter for the Sacramento Bee, she spent many years freelance writing as a mother. When she’s not accompanying her two daughters, she enjoys reading mysteries, cooking, and Zumba.



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