SEOUL, Dec. 7 (Korea Bizwire) – Facing financial challenges, esports teams are turning their attention to training academies to diversify their revenue streams.
For students and young individuals aspiring to debut as professional gamers, academies are emerging as gateways to prove their skills objectively and secure spots on renowned teams.
On a Saturday afternoon, teenagers clad in padded jackets and backpacks, with determined faces, file into the practice room where computers are set up as class time approaches.
What they pull out of their bags isn’t textbooks and stationery but mechanical keyboards and high-performance computer mice.
These individuals are students at the academy operated by the esports team DRX, aiming to debut as professional “Valorant” players. They attend both online and offline classes twice a week, dedicated to honing their skills.
Coach Kim Young-hyun, once a professional gamer under the nickname ‘Chibab,’ observes as students eagerly warm up before class.
“Most of the students have reached the top 1 percent in the game, achieving ranks like ‘Immortal’ or ‘Radiant’ within it. Those who enter the advanced class already possess almost perfected shooting skills, so we focus on teaching tactics and teamwork for winning games,” Kim says.
On this day, students from the advanced class participate in an internal scrimmage, a day where they can showcase their skills. Those who receive favorable evaluations and place in the top five may get a chance to play against the second-tier pro players while DRX team officials observe.
Many major esports teams in South Korea, including DRX, operate similar game academies.
T1, which won this year’s League of Legends World Championship, established the ‘T1 Esports Academy’ in 2021, offering educational programs for various games such as LoL, Valorant, and Overwatch 2.
While the primary goal is to discover and nurture promising pro gamers, there are also courses for individuals who enjoy games as a hobby to enhance their skills.
Gen.G, which secured three consecutive victories in the domestic LCK Spring and Summer competitions, established the ‘Gen.G Elite Esports Academy’ (GEEA) in collaboration with the U.S. private school Elite Open School in 2019.
GEEA offers education for esports players along with regular U.S. high school courses. Upon completion of the entire program, students receive a U.S. high school diploma, enabling them to pursue higher education.
According to Gen.G, all 13 GEEA graduates in 2022 were accepted into prestigious U.S. universities as esports-specialized students, and in the first half of this year, 10 received admission offers from U.S. universities.
Other entities, including Dplus KIA, Nongshim RedForce, and Liiv Sandbox, also operate academies to foster esports players.
An industry insider familiar with the situation notes, “As the esports industry grows, it is evolving into an elite sport. However, whether such endeavors will lead to actual improvements in the revenue structure of esports teams remains to be seen from a long-term perspective.”
Kevin Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org)