With global esports revenues topping off at a staggering $1 billion in 2019, it should be no surprise that esports is making its way to Oklahoma Christian University in 2020.
Lucas Hayworth, a recent Oklahoma Christian graduate, was hired as head coach and director of Oklahoma Christian’s esports program. Hayworth says his vision is what got him the job, and this semester he begins laying the foundation of his vision.
“I transitioned into the director of esports because of my vision,” Hayworth said. “I spent all winter break theorizing a vision for the program, and what I came up with is I’m currently taking this semester to build a foundation.”
To Hayworth, the foundation means setting the structure of the program, as well as expanding the program to build its popularity.
“In the future, I’m going to be positioning myself as recruiting for the academic side,” Hayworth said. “My endgame at the end of year two is to have the roadmap for an academic curriculum for esports. We will be the first school in the Midwest to do that. Esports is more than playing videogames. There is a huge backend to the industry.”
Hayworth also said he is confident the industry will grow, as will its popularity.
“I want to get everyone interested and knowledgeable,” Hayworth said. “There is a huge opportunity. Esports is already a billion-dollar industry, that’s more than music and film industries. Esports is on the rise, and I don’t think it’ll be stopping in the next 20 years.”
In week one of this program, Hayworth said teams have already been established, and the teams will compete in multiple leagues depending on the game.
“In week one heading into week two, we already have a varsity Rocket League team, and I am looking at getting varsity players for Smash Ultimate,” Hayworth said. “We’re going to have three leagues. The varsity league, a junior varsity league and student-led team. Varsity will receive scholarships similar to other teams, junior varsity will receive at a lesser scale, and our student-led team will not receive scholarships.”
Hayworth said the Varsity team will get to compete in leagues which might give significant prizes for winning, and these prizes could be used as scholarships.
“How it works is if our varsity students go and compete, and let’s say they win,” Hayworth said. “Let’s say they win 20 grand. They will split it three ways, and that will be purely scholarship. They cannot receive physical cash or that would break institution laws.”
Hayworth is hopeful to get around 25 players to compete and build a strong foundation. .
“The average startup for a professional esports team is 25 members,” Hayworth says. “Year two it doubles to 50, and at year three it goes to 100. Twenty-five is the startup we are aiming for, and like I said we have our players for Rocket League, and we are still looking for more. I think we are on track to 25.”
The Rocket League team is going to be Oklahoma Christian’s first competing team, and Hayworth said the players are coming to Oklahoma Christian with strong resumes.
“Our flagship varsity team is Rocket League,” Hayworth said. “We are already recruiting two people for next semester who are both grand champions. They are going to be transferring next semester.”