North Texas isn’t only a premier location for traditional sports, but also for esports. Competitive gaming has grown from grassroots communities to a global phenomenon with viewership that regularly competes with (or outdoes) traditional sports. Video games earned 180 billion dollars in revenue in 2020 alone, beating out the combined pre-pandemic numbers of movies and national sports in 2019 (100 billion and 75 billion respectively). Video games – and esports – are big business.
Jerry Jones and Mark Cuban aren’t just taking note, but are getting involved, making serious investments info the esports space with Mavs Gaming and Complexity respectively. They are not alone. Even the Esports Stadium Arlington, a stone's throw away from the Ranger’s old stomping grounds of Choctaw Stadium (formerly Globe Life Park), was first operated in part by co-owner of the Texas Rangers Neil Leiberman before being acquired by Envy Gaming Inc.
But it’s not just businesses getting into esports. North Texan schools and universities are, too. Several high schools in Collin County have partnered with organizations like High School Esports League to create extracurricular clubs. Frisco ISD has doubled down on this trend and has begun to offer an Introduction to Esports as a class that looks to teach students skills in broadcasting, game development, and content creation. Colleges and universities have begun creating esports programs and hiring coaches to expand on their existing athletics offerings.
Given all this exciting growth we have sought to put together a list of some of the most notable professional, collegiate, and high school esports programs in Collin County and beyond:
The Dallas Fuel was one of the inaugural twelve teams to compete in team shooter developer Blizzard’s Overwatch League which is notable for being one of the few leagues to follow the traditional sports model of independently owned city-based teams. The Dallas Fuel was the first OWL team to host a match in its local market.
Champions of the first-ever Call of Duty League in 2020 under the name of Dallas Empire, the franchise was rebranded as OpTic Texas following the merger of OpTic Gaming and Team Envy.
One of the largest and most prolific esports companies in the world, Envy Gaming manages both the Dallas Fuel and OpTic Texas alongside teams for games such as Halo Infinite, Super Smash Bros., Valorant and Rocket League.
Owned and operated by the management behind the Dallas Mavericks, it's no surprise that the Mavs esports team competes in the popular basketball game NBA 2K.
Complexity was established in 2003, making it by far the longest-standing esports organization on this list. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was brought on as an investor and part-owner in 2017, which is perhaps why their blue star logo might ring a few bells.
University of North Texas
The Mean Green has fully embraced esports and is currently offering partial scholarships for qualifying Overwatch, League of Legends and Rocket League players.
University of Texas at Dallas
UTD’s esports program launched in August of 2018 and also features teams in Overwatch, League of Legends and Rocket League as well as Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
University of Texas Arlington
UTA’s varsity teams also comprise Overwatch, League of Legends, Rocket League and Smash Ultimate with other competitive games like CounterStrike, Rainbow Six Siege and Hearthstone featured in their student-led club.
Dallas College competes in the National Junior College Athletic Association Esports, unique for being the only national esports association built for junior colleges.
Collin College in McKinney offers a number of esports as an intramural option for students.
McKinney Boyd High School
Esports is one of the dozens of student clubs and organizations that students can participate in at Mckinney Boyd. Students meet every Thursday after school.
As part of the district’s brand new efforts to promote esports, all of Frisco’s school’s competed in the 1st Annual FISD Esports Tournament which took place on May 7th. Participating high schools included Frisco High School, Memorial HS, Heritage HS, Independence HS, Lone Star HS, Reedy HS, Emerson HS and Wakeland HS.
Allen High School
Allen High School’s student-led esports club competes across various platforms such as PlayVS, TEXSEF and HSEL.
Rock Hill High School
The Esports Club at Rock Hill High School has proven to be quite popular, drawing in nearly two hundred students for an interest meeting last year ahead of tryouts.