Albany, NY — The State University of New York today announced that the Fall 2021 esports season debuted with unsurpassed participation numbers across SUNY campuses. In the Fall 2021 semester, 2,077 students enrolled in a SUNY Esports program, compared to 636 enrolled students at the same time last year—a more than three-time increase. The number of participating campuses offering esports programs grew from 45 in Fall 2020 to 49 in Fall 2021.
Nationally, 17 states now recognize esports as a high school varsity activity. Total esports viewership is on the rise, expected to reach 474 million in 2021 and 646 million by 2023, surpassing viewership for the NFL. Total revenue from esports is also growing, projected to exceed $1 billion this year.
Collegiate representation within SUNY Esports includes:
- 22 Community Colleges
- 13 Comprehensive Colleges
- 8 University Centers and Doctoral Degree Granting Institutions, and
- 6 Technology Colleges
For a list of all participating campuses, click here.
With the increased esports involvement across campuses, SUNY has partnered with LeagueSpot, an esports tournament engine that offers campus teams an opportunity to easily access competition rankings and communicate more successfully across SUNY. Popular games such as Overwatch, Rocket League, and Valorant are streamed on Twitch—an interactive livestreaming service—and results are uploaded directly onto SUNY’s LeagueSpot page, allowing participating students and viewers to access results more efficiently.
“The SUNY Esports league has seen enormous growth over the past few years, driven by student demand for the opportunity to participate in this positive, fun, and massively popular activity at their own campuses. Esports are inclusive and accessible, providing a sense of community and belonging for students of all abilities and experience levels,” said Chancellor Jim Malatras. “The expansion of the SUNY Esports league reveals our commitment to offering students extracurricular activities they are passionate about and that contribute to their well-being and success. Esports is the fastest growing entertainment industry in the world, and SUNY is poised to be a destination for collegiate players. It was great to help kick off a spirited competition between the University at Albany and SUNY Canton last night.”
“LeagueSpot is proud to have built such a prestigious esports program with the State University of New York,” said Andrew Barnett, CEO of LeagueSpot. “The expansion of this partnership marks a commitment to growth of collegiate esports, and provides the best possible experience for SUNY Esports athletes as a whole.”
Campuses additionally recognize the value of not only offering esports programs, but making a dedicated effort to expand them similar to that of any traditional sport. Several campuses, such as Clinton Community College, Rockland Community College, SUNY Empire, and others, hired esports coaches and coordinators to further expand the capabilities of esports teams. Other campuses have additionally built arenas—or are in the process of building or proposing gaming arenas—to accommodate student players and give them dedicated competition spaces. SUNY Canton has even added a degree in Esports Management to its curriculum to prepare for the continuation of esports’ growth in popularity.
SUNY Canton Esports Coordinator Charles Murray said, “I am continually humbled by the growth of SUNY Esports, and I consider it a privilege to have the opportunity to serve my esports community. Collegiate esports is more than just the future, it’s now. Now is one of the best times to be a gamer looking to go to college—and SUNY is the place to pursue that dream.”
University at Albany Head Coach and Director of Esports Michael Leczinsky said, “Collegiate esports brings together students from all class years, majors, diverse interests, and backgrounds. SUNY has provided students with numerous opportunities to be engaged in this exciting, new area, and we’re looking forward to a bright future as student interest and involvement continues to grow.”
University at Albany student Severina Oro said, “Esports and gaming are really important to me because it’s given me a safe space to destress from other commitments, has allowed me to meet really great peers, and learn valuable soft skills such as leadership, communication, and collaboration.”
SUNY Canton student Alec Knowles said, “Esports means the world to me. I have been able to travel the country and meet amazing people because of it. I am excited to get a career in the field and do so much more.”
SUNY Empire State College student Scott Warner said, “When I got an email about SUNY Empire having an esports team, I jumped at the chance to get involved, and I found that it completely filled the social interaction gap that my online courses were missing. Being on a team with other students and representing the school in competitions helps me identify as not only a SUNY Empire student, but as a part of something bigger than myself.”
SUNY currently features live esports competitions and gaming montages on its Twitch page. Games are typically scheduled Monday through Thursday at 8 p.m.
About The State University of New York
The State University of New York is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, and more than 95 percent of all New Yorkers live within 30 miles of any one of SUNY’s 64 colleges and universities. Across the system, SUNY has four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, a law school, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. In total, SUNY serves about 1.3 million students in credit-bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Research expenditures system-wide are nearly $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2021, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are more than three million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunity, visit www.suny.edu.