Only a few years ago, Lenovo sales representatives started receiving a steady stream of gaming inquiries from secondary schools and universities. They were asking what equipment they should buy to start an esports program in their schools. There’s little wonder why. Students love gaming.
The 2018 “League of Legends” World Championship finals had 100 million viewers – more than the Super Bowl! Today, the National Association of Collegiate Esports has more than 170 U.S. colleges with varsity esports programs and approximately $16 million per year in scholarships is being offered. Tespa, a network of college gamers, notes over 1,350 schools and 40,000 student e-athletes competed in its tournaments for $3.3 million in prizes and scholarships.
“Back then, we were getting a lot of interest from schools about setting up esports programs. Schools wanted gaming computers, monitors and networking solutions. A very positive inflection point was just beginning,” said Rich Henderson, Director of Global Education Solutions of Lenovo’s Intelligent Devices Group. “The most significant trend other than just interest and demand from schools was that few had any idea how to actually start or operate an esports program.”
Not many educators and their IT administrators are hardcore gamers or had participated in esports events. This is new and exciting territory for most of the education market, but one in which they would need guidance to set up a successful program at their school.
How Lenovo’s Player One Levelled Up Esports Solutions
Lenovo’s Intelligent Devices Group business pressed ‘Start’ and brought in Jeff Palumbo to be the Global Education Esports Solutions Manager. Jeff is a lifelong gamer and experienced business leader. In 2015, Jeff launched Lenovo’s gaming solutions, the precursor to the successful Lenovo Legion™ gaming PCs and equipment. In addition, he has years of consulting and ecommerce experience under his belt. A proven high-point scorer with more than a few gold coins in his pocket for superpowers, Jeff was uniquely positioned to level up Lenovo’s esports offering for education.
“I spent the first several months constantly going out on sales calls and listening to our education customers. Schools were really struggling. Many of them knew what they wanted – a thriving esports program to engage students. But how to put the infrastructure in place, what equipment to buy, how to kit out an esports arena, how to manage a varsity team, broadcast gaming events, or get sponsors… This was all well beyond their experience,” Jeff said. “And to make matters worse, vendors were overselling them pricey gaming equipment they just didn’t need. Some schools we met with had been burned and were reluctant to dip their toes deeper in the esports ocean.”
This is when Jeff realized that what education customers really needed was not better, or right-sized gaming equipment, it was advice. The Lenovo Esports Solution for Education transformed from a set of hardware and software offerings to an end-to-end solution with strategic counselling as a foundation.
Lenovo’s custom esports solution for schools includes
Discovery – From increasing positive student engagement to achieving high-level competition, Lenovo will help you envision what a program could look like for your students.
Consultation – Lenovo brings a consultative and advisory approach to esports programs, standing by to support and mentor the development of your esports program for free.
Goal Setting – Future-proof your program and identify key success metrics to track over time, ensuring esports is a smart, long-term investment.
To help build a school’s esports program, Lenovo offers end-to-end solutions from design and construction to software solutions and furniture options. To round it off, a fantastic set of products and accessories are available in the Lenovo Legion and Workstation lines, all backed by education warranty and leasing options.
Today, students at all levels are spread across a range of options and activities for learning, from in-school to distance learning and hybrid scenarios. The Lenovo Esports Solutions for Education includes the ability for students to join a school gaming network. Network solutions allow players to game from home, a dorm room or on campus with matchups and leaderboards to spur competition. The solution can include network and league management capabilities to maintain and optimize the experience for esports student athletes.
To learn more about Lenovo’s solutions for higher education, please visit CDW.ca/education