Collegiate esports championship coming to Toronto in May

The CSL North American Grand Finals is coming to Scotiabank Theatre in Toronto in May (Michael Claessens at Watt International Inc./Cineplex Entertainment)

Remember when you were in university/college and all you did was play video games instead of, you know, going to class?

In hindsight that probably wasn’t the best way for you to spend your — actually let’s be honest, your parents’ — money.

But what if, by holing yourself up in your dorm room and playing games for endless hours, was actually helping you earn scholarship money for that several-thousand dollar a year tuition that needs to be paid?

That’s exactly the kind of opportunity the Collegiate StarLeague (CSL), a college and university-focused esports organization, is offering students on campuses across Canada and the United States.

Coming to Toronto from May 12-14, CSL will be hosting the North American Collegiate Grand Finals in DOTA 2, Counter Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) and Starcraft 2 at Scotiabank Theatre. Additionally, a separate Canadian League of Legends (LoL) invitational tournament will be held that weekend.

According to a statement issued by the CSL, thousands of students from across Canada and the U.S. will be competing for more than $100,000 in scholarship money.

To put that into perspective, if that $100,000 is divided up evenly between the three main competitions (DOTA 2, CS:GO and Starcraft 2) that’s about $33,333 of scholarship money being handed out with the winning team likely being awarded over $23,000 (should the winners be awarded a 70 per cent take), which comes out to approximately $4,666 per player, for teams of five.

That $4,600 figure is of interest because, as stated on the Ontario University Athletics website, the maximum athletic financial award (the equivalent of an athletic scholarship) amount a school may offer a student is $4,500, meaning the winning team in this esports competition may be getting a better deal than most U Sports athletes.

Founded in 2009, the CSL has representation on 918 different campuses, with 78 of them being Canadian.

The North American Collegiate Grand Finals are currently in the midst of its qualifiers.

“We’re in the March Madness phase of our [competition],” said Wim Stocks, general manager and CEO of WorldGaming and the CSL. “The various teams will be playing down in each of the games to the top 16 team [who] will make it to Toronto where we actually fly the teams that qualified to compete.”

Stocks’ World Gaming organization is helping take care of the qualifying process. World Gaming and the CSL had recently been bought by Cineplex, hence the move to bring this championship to Scotiabank Theatre.