The University of California, Irvine has announced that it will host a pilot scholarship team of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate players during the 2019-20 academic year.
The scholarship has been made available thanks to a $50,000 donation from the owners of Street Media, a publishing company led by CEO and gaming fan, Brian Calle. Players will be selected by the university's Esports program and TAG Smash Ultimate Club; the funds will be used to offer scholarships worth $6,000 to the top six players and to cover additional costs.
The team won't have a traditional coach, but UCI Esports will provide the necessary staff to coordinate practice times, travel, social media, equipment needs and competitions. It's not just a case of showing up and playing games, either; players are expected to practice 10 to 15 hours per week and maintain a 2.0 cumulative GPA.
Mark Deppe, director of UCI Esports, has said the following:
“The ‘Smash’ community at UCI is one of the biggest and most passionate gaming clubs on campus. We are fortunate to be able to offer scholarships to ‘League of Legends’ and ‘Overwatch’ players. When a donor emerged with a desire to support one of his favorite games, we knew this was something we had to pursue to create more opportunities for the ‘Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’ student gaming community.”
We wish we had opportunities like this when we were in education - this is a part of the curriculum we can definitely get behind!