UC Irvine to offer Overwatch scholarship program

It's always high noon for McCree in Overwatch. Provided by Blizzard.

IRVINE, Calif. -- University of California Irvine (UCI) will begin offering an Overwatch-based scholarship come Fall 2017.

Overwatch is the second game to join UCI's esports scholarship program following its debut with League of Legends last fall. The university was one of the first institutions in North America to offer such an opportunity.

"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, Acting Director of UCI eSports. "We look forward to connecting the excitement generated by our competitive teams to advance efforts along our other pillars: Academics, Community and Entertainment."

Those selected for the program will receive yearly financial aid of $2,500 to cover tuition fees in exchange for a commitment of "15-20 hours per week during the season to practice, team meetings, community service, workouts, and competitions." In addition, the program will provide its beneficiaries with a professional-grade infrastructure that includes dedicated coaching and analysis staff, personal training, a team psychologist and unlimited access to UCI's esports arena.

This development comes after the success of the UCI gaming club's Overwatch team. The team has performed at the highest level of collegiate play, winning the Tespa Summer Series in 2016 and going undefeated in the Tespa Collegiate Series fall of the same year.

"It's one of the most popular games at UCI and in the general esports world," Deppe said. "Secondly, it has a great collegiate league run by Tespa. Thirdly, the developer -- Bizzard -- supports competitive play with in-game tools, multiple viewing options, player ranking systems, etc."

Deppe also noted that the game aligns with UCI eSports' goal of making esports "more inclusive and accessible to groups that are underrepresented in esports."

Tryouts for UCI's Overwatch scholarship program will take place over the summer. Current and incoming students are open to apply for the program.