Eight high school students from esports teams in North Pole and Nome have been awarded $1,000 scholarships to the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

The Alaska Esports Scholarship is the first of its kind in the state. In March, UAF celebrated the grand opening of its on-campus Alaska Esports Center.

The North Pole Patriots won the Alaska School Activities Association’s League of Legends tournament. League of Legends is a multiplayer online battle arena in which teams of five players strategize to destroy the other team’s base using items and spells while defending their own base.

The Nome Beltz Nanooks won the ASAA Rocket League tournament. In Rocket League, teams of three play a soccer-style game but with cars, relying on teamwork and turbo boosts to score more points than their opponent.

“As esports continues to grow, both casually and competitively, UAF is excited to continue to engage students and honor their craft, teamwork, practice and passion by opening up a path to college and lifelong success,” said Mike Juell, UAF’s esports coordinator. “Nanook Nation is excited to see our program continue to flourish with scholar athletes such as the ones from these teams.”

For seniors, the scholarships can be used for regular UAF tuition during the upcoming academic year. For high school champions who are not yet graduating, the scholarships can be applied to tuition in the Alaska Advantage Program, which provides high-quality dual enrollment opportunities from UAF and University of Alaska Southeast.