The 21st Show

Esports Are Growing at Illinois Colleges

NIU esports lounge

NIU esports lounge Northern Illinois University

The world of esports has exploded over the past few years. At its core, it’s competitive video gaming, with many of the trappings you might associate with traditional sports like cheering crowds and excited announcers. College campuses have played a role in the rise of esports. Where there was once just a handful of programs nationwide, more than 170 colleges and universities are now part of the National Association of Collegiate Esports — including multiple schools in Illinois. 

The 21st spoke to the director of esports at Northern Illinois University, the president of Illini Esports and the Director of Competitive at Illini Esports to hear more.


Conner Vagle
Director of esports at NIU

AJ Taylor
President, Illini Esports

Angela Yang
Former Director of Competitive, Illini Esports