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Top ‘Overwatch’ players can earn scholarships to University of California, Irvine

Since its release in May 2016, Overwatch has become one of the biggest multiplayer games around — and it’s no doubt been responsible for many late college assignments and failed exams. However, the game might actually help some players complete their degree, as the University of California, Irvine, has announced plans to offers scholarships to top competitors.

UCI will start offering its Overwatch scholarship from fall 2017, according to a report from ESPN. The institution is one of the first schools in North America to get serious about esports scholarships, starting with its League of Legends program, which went into effect last year.

Standout players who are selected will receive $2,500 per year toward their tuition. In return, they’ll commit to spending between 15 and 20 hours per week to practice, team meetings, community service, workouts, and competitions over the course of the game’s competitive season.

The arrangement also comes with some other perks for students who make the cut. They’ll be granted unlimited usage of UCI’s esports arena, as well as access to a host of professional support staff including coaches, personal trainers, and a team psychologist.

“We are very excited to take this next step in growing our scholarship program for top gamers who are also strong students and great members of our community,” said Mark Deppe, the acting director of esports at UCI. “We look forward to connecting the excitement generated by our competitive teams to advance efforts along our other pillars: Academics, community, and entertainment.”

It makes a lot of sense for UCI to commit to the game in this way, as the school has enjoyed great success at previous competitive events. Its gaming club’s Overwatch team won the Tespa Summer Series in 2016, and managed to go undefeated in the Tespa Collegiate Series later that year.

Tryouts for acceptance onto the Overwatch scholarship program are set to get underway over the course of the summer. UCI is encouraging both current and incoming students to get involved, and there are hopes that the game’s diverse player base will help the school achieve its goal of making esports more inclusive and accessible to underrepresented groups of people.

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