From left to right: Jacob Davis, Jason Phan, Adam Hamza, Christian Nguyen, and Josh Henry pose for a picture in the Haymarket on Tuesday, March 8, 2022, in Lincoln, Nebraska.

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln is known for football and volleyball but there is one sport on the rise that doesn’t receive the same recognition as traditional sports. Electronic sports, or esports, is where video games are set up in a competitive match and played against other teams. The Nebraska Esports club has been facing ferocious competitors this season and simultaneously battling UNL to be recognized as an addition to Nebraska sports, all while creating a welcoming environment for all gamers. 

According to Insider Intelligence there is an influx of people who are becoming interested in video games, and the world of esports will also grow with it. Some colleges, such as Bellevue University and Midland University, offer esports related scholarships. Even more colleges have been producing official esports teams that are affiliated and funded through the school. Yet, UNL still hasn’t joined other colleges who have included esports into their sports programs.

The Nebraska Esports club was formed in 2019 and last year merged with the former League of Legends Club to unite the UNL gaming community, said Gregory Quick, a senior accounting major and captain of the League of Legends team.

The Nebraska Esports club currently has teams for “Valorant,” “League of Legends,” “Rocket League,” “Call of Duty,” “Counter-Strike: Global Offense” and other games, Quick said.

The organization currently has a Discord server and a Twitter where players can join and interact with other gamers. With over 600 members in the discord server not everyone is going to want to play competitively.

The club is open to creating a team for any game that can be played competitively if there are enough people wanting to play, said Jacob Davis, a senior accounting major and team captain for the Valorant team.

“We’re the esports club but really we’re just like a gaming club too,” Davis said. “You can just come into our discord and find similar games that people are playing.”

Davis said that despite the growing popularity of the Nebraska Esports club, the community still struggles with disadvantages in player growth due to the lack of support and funding from UNL. Because the club isn’t inundated as part of the official sports program, the club can often be put at a disadvantage due to there not being any professional coaching or team resources.

While Nebraska Esports may not have the encouragement they need, their spirits haven’t diminished and the club is competing against fierce competition and beating them, Quick said.

“A lot of other teams have an esports room from the college. Our Grandmaster is playing on a PC that probably came out in 2008,” Quick said. “But I’ve been very happy at how well we have been able to do, even without the support structure there.”

Esports is the next generation of sports that colleges are hesitant to invest in due to the low profits associated with the sport despite the amount of potential and benefits that esports can foster, Davis said. Many skilled players are being swayed by the pull of scholarships given by other schools that grant them the time, effort and resources toward something that they love to do. Despite these current drawbacks, the Nebraska Esports team won’t stop fighting to prove they have what it takes to be recognized by UNL, said Davis.

“We want to grow our esports club to be recognized more by the university,” Davis said. “We want to represent them. We want to be a club where students are like, ‘We want to go to Nebraska to play games.’”