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How to Start Your Esports Program
How to Start Your Esports Program

Follow this step-by-step guide to get an esports program started at your school

Updated over a week ago

PlayVS is building the infrastructure and platform for amateur esports by working directly with game publishers and states to build and operate sanctioned leagues across the country. Through our partnership with the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS Network), we empower students to compete in esports on behalf of their schools, just like any other youth sport.

Tip: For a step-by-step guide to Starting Your Esports Program, download our interactive Esports Roadmap here!

1. Sign up on PlayVS

The PlayVS team is comprised of former high school teachers, administrators, and IT directors who can help answer any questions you may have regarding esports. Whether you are starting a program from scratch, or have been playing for years, our team can help!

  1. Visit to create a Coach Account. No commitment necessary.

  2. Provide a school email and contact information.

  3. Schedule a consultation call with a PlayVS representative for your state. We recommend you invite key stakeholders to join the call: Administrators, Athletic Directors, and the IT Department.

2. Get Your Administration’s Approval

Principals and Athletic Directors can help ensure that esports are recognized, funded and promoted on campus, along with other activities and sports.

Esports in Education

Esports requires a tremendous amount of critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity from players to achieve and sustain success. With easy access and a low cost to entry, esports reaches beyond traditional sports to create an all-inclusive environment that breaks barriers.

Engaged students perform better in school. Esports has the unique ability to appeal to and engage a wider audience. For many of our players, esports is the first time they've participated in a coached, athletic activity.

Esports Benefits

  • Sense of Community

  • Character Development

  • Scholarship Opportunities

  • Embodies ISTE Standards

  • Increase Achievement

  • STEM engagement

PlayVS manages the schedules, displays team and player stats, and provides real-time support for coaches. Coaches can add and arrange players to build optimal lineups. Similar to traditional sports, PlayVS holds a Fall and Spring season during the school year, however each season will have its own league champion.

  • PlayVS and NFHS Network support

  • Fall and Spring seasons

  • Schedules, rulebooks and standings

  • Weekly matches played after school

  • Multiple teams per esport

  • State rankings

  • Single-elimination playoffs

  • Annual PlayVS Cup

3. Connect with Your IT Department

Your IT department is necessary to verify which games can run on your school computers. Keep in mind that players can bring their own laptops from home as long as a reliable Internet connection is available. Give your IT department the PlayVS Hardware-Network Specifications and How to Download instructions in the "What is" article of the esport you will be competing in. Work with your IT department to complete the necessary requirements for successful game days.

  1. Provide the school’s IP public address to PlayVS in the settings section of your Coach Dashboard.

  2. Work with IT to unblock the games in the internet filter and firewall. Share our whitelists with your IT department, as provided in our Hardware-Network Specifications.

  3. View the download instructions in each game's "What is...?" article to download the games you will compete in.

  4. Account for weekly game updates throughout the season. Our High School Rulebook recommends opening updated game clients at least one hour before match time.

PlayVS Tip: Give your season schedule to the IT department to ensure that network maintenance does not interfere with game days.

4. Determine Your Program’s Capacity

With administrative and IT support, you can determine your program’s capacity. There are three main factors that will help you start and scale your esports program: student preferences, IT capabilities, and coach availability.

  1. Number of students interested per esport:

    • Distribute flyers, use our Student Interest Survey, and hold an interest meeting to determine how many teams you will be able to form and for which games. For example: League of Legends requires 5 starting players. Rocket League requires a team of 3 starting players. Visit the Game Rules section in our Help Center for more information on roster size requirements per title.

    • PlayVS Tip: Have a computer ready so students can quickly sign up on

  2. Number of computers that can run each game:

    • Use our Esports Lab Setup Guide to gauge your equipment and IT needs. Network Setup and Firewall Setup will be determined by your IT department who will need access to our Network Inclusion Lists.

    • Keep in mind that you can have multiple teams within the same esport so the number of computers is your biggest limiting factor.

  3. Number of coaches and their availability:

5. Build Your Program

Practice makes perfect for building your program! Some coaches use our Discord channel to organize scrimmage matches against other schools in their state or across the nation. Here are some other suggestions that may help build your program:

Tip: Some teams may travel to local game centers or colleges for their scheduled matches if needed. Confirm any off-site matches with a PlayVS League Official.

Take Your Program to the Next Level!

Once started, there are many ways to continually grow your program. Contacting other stakeholders, schools, and media may help provide additional support for your teams. While playing and analyzing games, players can develop skills and camaraderie.

6. On Game Day

On match day, coaches and players should understand the basics of joining a match and the game day rules required for their esport.

Unsure about becoming an esports coach?

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