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  • With viewers, sponsorships and prize pools now outpacing even some traditional sports,

  • video games are suddenly a more viable career path than ever.

  • At schools like Maryville University and Columbia College in Missouri, there's a hope in the

  • back of players' minds that their talent might get them noticed.

  • "My biggest passion in life is competitive League of Legends."

  • "I never expected to be a professional gamer.

  • You never thought about that growing up."

  • For being less than a decade old, professional League of Legends is in a pretty good place.

  • Pros on the North American circuit can rake in a six-figure salary.

  • The biggest annual tournaments put millions of dollars on the line.

  • And esports as an industry now supports more careersfrom coaching and broadcast to

  • programming and graphic design.

  • Some players even make a living streaming gameplay on platforms like Twitch.

  • And by most counts, "League of Legends" is the most popular online game.

  • Last time Riot Games talked about stats, 27 million people logged in to play every day.

  • And 43 million people tuned in to watch streams of the 2016 world championship.

  • That's approaching the popularity of some World Series or NBA Finals games.

  • So why not go pro?

  • Players are already putting in the focus and the hours to make "League of Legends" a full-time

  • job.

  • Their performance shows that all the teamwork and communication they've honedworks.

  • The best college players are among the most skilled in the world, in the top tenth of

  • one percent of everyone who plays "League."

  • As they say, academics come first.

  • But players know if they're good enough, they might get other opportunities.

  • "I want to be a professional more than, like, anything ever."

  • "The hope would be to do it professionally, right?

  • But the realistic goal is to get a job with my computer science degree.

  • Coaches are also aware that their best players might get offers from pro teams.

  • "When opportunities come up, a professional team asks you to play, it's kind of hard to

  • turn it down.

  • "I have no problem with them going pro if they want to.

  • Who wouldn't want to go pro if they have the drive for it, you know?

  • … I make sure that they read the contracts.

  • You never know what the contract's going to say or state."

  • That didn't happen during Maryville's 2017 season.

  • And if it ever does, it's still not for everyone.

  • The time and effort needed to go pro is even more demanding than playing for a varsity

  • team.

  • "To go pro, you have to be really motivated, and you have to dedicate a lot of your time.

  • I don't feel like I'm at a place where I can commit as much time as my teammates."

  • Andrew Smith is pursuing Maryville's Rawlings Sport Business Management degree.

  • He expects to graduate in 2019.

  • "I never expected to go to college for playing videogames.

  • It's kind of weird to look back and think about it.

  • It's not like it's something I dreamt about.

  • It just happened.

  • That's the coolest part."

  • "It was always a pipe dream of mine to eventually make it pro."

  • "If I can't make it as a pro player, I would love to work for an organization, or even

  • riot games, as part of their broadcast team."

  • Since the 2017 season, Connor Doyle has moved to Lourdes University in Ohio to finish a

  • degree in business administration and captain the school's "League of Legends" team.

  • He's also interning as a coach for Wind and Rain, a "League" team on the European pro

  • circuit.

  • But he remembers where he started: With the team he helped build when he signed on at

  • Columbia College.

  • "That process taught me a lot about myself, taught me how to be a better leader."

  • "This was when I was at Colby College, my sophomore year.

  • I had to make a decision whether or not I wanted to try to make it pro and follow my

  • dream.

  • It feels a little crazy, looking back, but I think I made the right decision."

With viewers, sponsorships and prize pools now outpacing even some traditional sports,

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Esports is a more promising career than ever

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    Shinichiro posted on 2020/01/30
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