10 years ago, the concept of playing video games for a living may have seemed a bit ridiculous. Now, however, eSports are bigger than ever. Gamers across the world have joined teams to duke it out in games like Fortnite, Overwatch, League of Legends and even Hearthstone.
They take part in large competitions with massive prize pools and thousands of audience members, all while earning sponsorships from popular global brands. If all of that wasn't surreal enough, Ohio's Ashland University is taking things a step further.
In an announcement on Wednesday, the school detailed their plans to offer "up to $4,000" in scholarships to students with a high "player skill level" in Fortnite and the appropriate academic requirements.
"Fortnite appeals to both the core and casual gaming audience," Ashland University head coach Josh Buchanan said in a statement. "We're excited to provide this platform for gamers who want to showcase their skills in a more competitive space. Fortnite facilitates an environment that allows players to get creative, innovate and show off their mastery of their skills."
In addition to offering these scholarships, Buchanan plans to conduct open tryouts for the university's eSports team next school year in anticipation of a future Fortnite collegiate league. By assembling and training several cohesive four-player teams now, Buchanan hopes Ashland University will be ahead of the curve for any official upcoming competitions.
Ashland University isn't stopping there, though. They also plan to begin construction of a "gaming center" in the lower level of the university's library next month. The gaming center will apparently include "25 gaming stations" with gaming PCs, accessories and chairs provided by the school and the team's sponsors.
If you're a gamer who happens to attend Ashland University, you can apply to join the school's "Ashland Eagles" eSports team right here.