The Kitchener-Waterloo region will be investing into its own esports programs, events and initiatives. This will be the first investment of its kind to promote gaming programs in the region.
Allister Scorgie, the director of the Sport Hosting Office at Explore Waterloo Region describes esports as “a global phenomenon, on track to surpass $1 billion in global revenues in 2021”.
He added, “Waterloo Region is already having local endemic gaming and technology companies. We believe esports will play an integral role in the future of our tourism efforts and will have a positive economic impact for years to come.”
The goal for the investment plan is to have the Waterloo Region Sports Commission (WRSC) gather regional municipalities, local enterprises and gaming industries in the area. The WRSC will also use Waterloo as a destination to support, host and promote tournaments and programs.
Their first initiative is to promote local and regional talent via numerous camps hosted by Esports Camps Canada, which will also include certified esports coaches from the University of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier University and Conestoga College.
Jeremy Dueck, manager of The Aud in Kitchener stated that Waterloo Region has always been a site of outstanding sports, education, training and technology.
“Esports is not just a new sport. Esports is also a new career path, an economic driver, community bridge, and global connection that will have a positive impact in our region,” Dueck said.
Scorgie added that during Spring Break, he is hoping that young people will participate in a series of esport camps. They’ve created a contest giveaway to offer 30 registrations via Twitter and their official website, which they hope will enable young players to participate.
The UWaterloo Esports will present a virtual League of Legends camp from April 13 to 15 from 11 a.m to 2 p.m ET. This camp consists of training for young players with a variety of tactics and tools to improve not just their gaming skills but improve their life skills simultaneously. With the anticipation of Waterloo Esports Camps growing and enhancing both physically and mentally, Imprint asked Steve Quach, one of the leads for the University of Waterloo Esports team and is running the League of Legends Camp at UW, to give his thoughts about the news.
Q: How do you feel about KW having their esports program?
SQ: In my opinion, we’ve been pretty open to embrace all of the different aspects of what collegiate esports has to offer. Things that come to mind include competitiveness towards students that are looking to participate in those experiences, casual events or other community members supporting people with opportunities, to streams and whatnot. There’s a lot of stuff that the school is actively trying to do in order to support and make sure that the students are as supportive as they can be. We made a lot of progress and I’ve been told that we are the most developed university esports program in Ontario. That just goes to show how much we’ve been doing so far and how welcome Waterloo is to this change.
Q: What new experience would youth players learn from Esport Camps?
SQ: The esports camps are meant for not necessarily University students – they are targeting more youth from ages thirteen to eighteen. The idea with these camps is to use esports as a medium to help the youth understand and develop life skills in a way that is more genuine to them and it helps them be more passionate and express themselves the best. So these are valuable soft skills that people can think of, things like teamwork, communication, having the right mindset.
Q: In your opinion, what would Esports Camp teach youth players to help them perform better?
SQ: The esports camp, in my opinion, would help youth to perform better because it recognizes what these players are missing from their play and what exactly they need in order to improve. I know this sounds vague at first, but it helps identify what skills or what things they might not understand – it’s less about the technical aspects of each game per se but more about developing the right mindset and being able to have the right habits in order to create a better environment for yourself in order to improve.
Q: Would therapy and counseling with a psychologist be helpful and essential for esports, especially at this time when mental health is becoming a concern?
SQ: Maybe not specifically with the camp because there are resources already available to support the mental aspect of the game. However, on a general basis, I do believe that having a psychologist is really helpful for players and different athletes because for a lot of players, they might not have a full understanding of why they are feeling a certain way or what emotions affect their thinking. Therefore, having an external person to help identify those things for them is extremely helpful and keeps them grounded. It allows players to perform better because they are understanding how their mind works so they can use that and then twist that in a way that helps them perform a lot better.
Q: Are you hoping that Waterloo’s tournaments and programs will become a success?
SQ: Of course. I am very much hoping that the esports program continues to grow at the rate that it has been. It’s huge at the school, but it’s still relatively good because of how many potential players there are and the kinds of things that we can be doing at the school or to better engage students. Having to support people in the competitive scene is a really great start, with a lot of events for casual players that are looking to use it as a social medium or connect with new people or have a social activity with their friends. I do want to expand on catering to the needs or wants of as many students as possible. There are a lot of steps for me to take and there are a lot of different ways we can go about it so we’ll see how continuing events will go and take up from there.
Q: Anything else you would like to say?
SQ: I think Waterloo is taking a lot of initiative in trying to make sure that the students’ experience of esports is a genuine one. We are looking to help improve students’ experience through esports and meet their needs. At the same time, we’re trying to help the university staff and the faculty understand the value of esports.