SPRINGFIELD, Va. (FOX 5 DC) - Esports is growing in popularity nationwide, and now the trend is making its way into colleges and universities.
Northern Virginia Community College is one of the largest community colleges in the country, and its new Esports program is already making strides – so much so, that it’s already going toe to toe with universities nationwide.
Anthony Logan hasn’t been gaming as long as some of the other participants, but he’s used to competing.
"I played basketball in high school. I played varsity all four years,” Logan said.
Now that he’s at NOVA, he’s traded his basketball for a keyboard.
"It's awesome to do something different since I didn't want to play basketball anymore. It's nice to have a chance to also compete,” Logan said.
NOVA Sports Information Director Tony Black says he can envision a future where Esports teams compete alongside more conventional sports.
"I wouldn't be surprised if the NCAA added this to be one of their 100 sports that they offer as a championship sport,” Black said.
Logan says his team prepares just like they do in other sports.
"We practice, we watch reviews, we scrimmage other teams,” he said.
NOVA has teams for two different online computer games – “Overwatch” and “League of Legends.”
In those games, players team up to try to advance levels and complete particular objectives.
Players meet inside a small on-campus room and practice strategies several times a week before a match.
And it’s not a small operation either.
"Our League of Legends team has gone up against larger names. They've gone up against LSU they've gone up against Duke. They've gone up against Texas Tech,” said NOVA Esports Director Chris Gaul.
All matches are streamed online, and get thousands of viewers per session.
They’re narrated by broadcasters who provide live commentary as the games go on.
In its first season, the school’s “Overwatch” team is in the playoffs and has a chance to play for a league championship, losing only one match throughout the regular season.
"You don't have to be the biggest guy out there. You don't have to be 6-foot-9 to play on a team,” Gaul said.
Some of the larger schools across the country are now offering full scholarships to their universities to play these games, just like any other sport.
And players have a chance to go pro and sign big contracts with teams like Overwatch D.C.
Logan says he just wants people to realize that his accomplishments on the basketball court are as significant as his accomplishments on the computer screen.
"Once people actually start realizing that and start looking at the routine that we do and the things that we do they'll start understanding it more as a sport,” Logan said.
NOVA’s Overwatch team will be playing their next game on Saturday. The League of Legends team will be competing on Sunday.