The team behind the new e-sports scholarship at Waterford IT is standing in a sports hall and smiling into the camera.
From left: Aidan Boylan, Collegiate Esport, Darragh Cunningham, Ireland Esports, Aisling O' Neill, WIT ArcLabs, Killian Buckley, UPMC Ireland and John Windle, Head of WIT Vikings Sport. Image: Waterford IT

First Irish e-sports scholarship will train you on FIFA, Rocket League and more

30 Jul 2020

Waterford IT’s new e-sports scholarship will help talented gamers develop their academic and game careers. Applications are open now.

Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) has launched an e-sports scholarship, the first initiative of its kind launched from a third-level institute in Ireland.

Vikings Sport, WIT’s own sports brand, developed the scholarship with UPMC Ireland. It is sponsored by WIT’s research and innovation hub, ArcLabs.

According to Business Insider, the e-sports market is on track to surpass $1.5bn by 2023. The sport is even set to feature at the 2024 summer Olympics in Paris, bringing a mix of virtual and connected events.

WIT aims to boost the market in Ireland, offering new and existing students the opportunity to apply to the scholarship. There is also an ‘elite’ scholarship for gamers with outstanding ability and an ‘emerging talent’ scholarship for students who are able to demonstrate their potential. It will focus mainly on five titles: Counter Strike, FIFA ’20, League of Legends, Rocket League and Valorant.

John Windle, head of WIT Vikings Sport, spoke at the launch of the scholarship. His team is “delighted to lead the way in the Irish third-level sector providing recognition for high-performing e-sports players”, he said.

“My goal is to provide a community in WIT Vikings Sport for all students, both present and future, who play e-sports to have the opportunity to receive the same supports and recognition that is given to current sports teams,” Windle added.

WIT’s ArcLabs has incubators in Waterford and Kilkenny, giving entrepreneurs the space and support to build on ideas and bring them closer to commercial success. Its centre manager, Aisling O’Neill, described the partnership with WIT Vikings Sport as “an ideal fit”.

Darragh Cunningham, director at e-sports and gaming governing body Ireland Esports, highlighted the importance of the sector: “E-sports provides an opportunity for students to connect, engage and make friends. The skill level, commitment and consistency of effort from e-sports athletes matched and, at times, exceeded that of what I have seen across other sports.”

Anyone interested in learning more about WIT’s sports scholarships can visit its website here.

Lisa Ardill
By Lisa Ardill

Lisa Ardill joined Silicon Republic as senior careers reporter in July 2019. She has a BA in neuroscience and a master’s degree in science communication. She is also a semi-published poet and a big fan of doggos. Lisa briefly served as Careers Editor at Silicon Republic before leaving the company in June 2021.

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