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Thomas College launches varsity-level esports program

"Esports, on its most fundamental level, is just competitive video game played in the same sort of avenue that you'd expect any sort of professional sport," says coach Martin Schelasin.

WATERVILLE, Maine — You may have heard of games like Fortnite, League of Legend, World of Warcraft or Overwatch — none played on a field or with a ball, rather all played online.

Your opponents might be sitting next to you, living next to you or even calling another country "home." All known as "esports," these games have now spawned their first-ever varsity college team. 

Thomas College in Waterville is the first college in Maine and only third college in New England to start a varsity level program.

Martin Schelasin was hired to coach the program of about 50 players at Thomas College. Schealasin, also known as "Andrezz," was a top 100 World of Warcraft pro player and started a fan site for League of Legends called Cloak n Dragger. Schelasin has grown up in Maine and is happy to be in his home state. 

"The eports is very much a young and trendy thing and being able to channel the passion for the esports is something that is endemic in this country to California," said player Davin Egan. "Being able to find a hub for that here is incredibly important to me. It's something that shows people that they can pursue their passion where they want to in their home state."

For Egan, who plays League of Legends and Overwatch on the team and has a love for video games, this is the perfect fit.

"I was just playing alone and we didn't have a team yet until esports program started, and everyone comes to this little room who want to play games."

Central Maine Community College will be the second to launch a varsity-level esports team. It’s coming online this fall.