Social Media Coordinator

case study

how esports is revolutionising inter-university competition

What do you picture comes to mind when you think of a university student competing? For most, images of outdoor sport will spring to mind. Or perhaps an enumerated rugby player stumbling out of a club dressed as a fairy.

Whatever pops into your head, I can almost guarantee that it will fall into the typical sporting format for UK uni-goers. But some students are flipping the script across the country, giving uni competition an esports-style makeover...

badass x students

One such project is the BADASS University Allstars.

Named BUAL for short, the league is a unique and dynamic esports tournament format that allows highly skilled students from different universities to team up and compete each other. The league uses Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege as their current title of choice and BUAL has frequently been in the top 5 concurrent channels on Twitch playing this title.

Since its inception in November 2020, the league has reached the top 0.25% of Twitch channels and boasts a committed audience who watch each stream for 1.3 hours on average.

We’re proud of these figures, but they’re only one aspect of BUAL’s success.

hypersocial not antisocial

Gaming may often be regarded as a lone past time, but the crop of budding student gamers involved in BUAL have shown just why this is a dated assumption.

Kairo, a commentator and player for BUAL, speaks fondly of the community that it has formed: “BUAL has a special place in my heart. Becoming organically invested in the league, as well as working with some of the best up and coming production talent, has grown me as a caster. I’ve seen first-hand the community that BUAL has created away from the league – most of these people wouldn’t be friends or playing together if it wasn’t for the league. It is completely unique from the other leagues and, in my opinion, the best university league in the UK.”

Student projects such as BUAL have changed the narrative of the antisocial gamer. While many head into university to indulge in partying, others may opt to utilise the social offerings of university by forming intimate online relationships instead.

Student esports leagues allow students to form relationships not only with people within their uni, but buddy up with students dotted around the country. Members of BUAL are already a tightknit community who routinely catch up over discord, video call and in-person meet ups at LAN events.

Data shows that younger generations have become accustomed to forming friendships in this manner. Deloitte has reported that gaming is Gen Z’s favourite hobby and a study conducted by GWI discovered that modern teens prefer socialising with their friends online rather than offline

Gamers are a majority rather than a minority, but this is not always represented within universities themselves. Organisations like BUAL are waving the flag for the gaming enthusiasts.

new revenue streams

Students involving themselves in projects such as BUAL don’t only reap the social benefits, but also have the opportunity to pocket themselves some cash. For example, BUAL’s top prize for the players in the league is a tasty £1.2k.

And it is not only players who receive the monetary benefits of BUAL. Within the last year, BUAL has supported over 100 students with paid experience and training across all areas of esports, such as production, casting and observing.

Gaming is now a legitimate revenue stream, and BUAL helps to cultivate budding gamers and esports production staff at a base level. 

Gaming content was consumed more than film and music combined in 2020, suggesting that the skillsets sharpened at BUAL will be in-demand in the coming years.

a welcoming community

Toxicity in the gaming community is perhaps over documented. There will always be an element of bantering and playful bragging within gaming communities, but this comes hand in hand with any competitive space.

The bonds built within BUAL have been overwhelmingly positive. The prevailing sense is that students from across the country are digitally gathered to bond over their shared passions and revel in their beloved sport.

Dicta, a player for BUAL, has appreciated the welcoming community created by BUAL: “I have now taken part in all 3 seasons of BUAL and I’ve found it to be a super accepting environment, both as a general player and also as a trans person. 

“Furthermore, it’s given me a unique opportunity to meet players from other universities with who I’ve become friends, that I would never have otherwise met. Overall, it’s been a really fun experience which has improved me as a player and I would recommend it to any Rainbow Six Siege player at university.”

In a world in which gaming is not yet widely respected as a viable career path, BUAL shows how gaming can be enriching at a base level, both in terms of social bonding and career progression. It won’t be long until the rest of the world catches up.