eSports

eFuse CEO Matt Benson on deploying Pipeline, a system to facilitate a ‘path to collegiate esports’ – The Esports Observer

Esports and gaming discoverability platform eFuse has launched a new program called Pipeline, a ranking system that showcases the top 100 college-eligible players. Pipeline currently supports League of Legends and Valorant, with an Aim Lab-specific ranking to identify crossover talent. 

“We think of Pipeline as similar to an ESPN top 100 but for esports and gaming,” said Matthew Benson, CEO and Founder of eFuse. “So, we want this to be the leaderboard ranking system that ultimately gives exposure to high school students and provides the opportunity for them to be discovered by collegiate coaches.” 

Benson added that Pipeline verifies players’ identities, in-game statistics and rankings, academic data, and their college goals so that coaches scouting talent can find the best player to fill out their rosters. 

“Students come in, they register with their in-game credentials, which ultimately show in their game stats,” Benson said. “They input their demographic information – where they are, what age they are, what year they are graduating high school, the things that are in part important for a college coach. We pair that with the two together, the game stats and the demographic information, and then make them a recruitable asset and rank them in a leaderboard fashion on display for coaches.”

Likewise, coaches go through a vetting process to verify that they are “real” prior to gaming access to player data. Right now the company is working with more than 70 colleges in the United States, but the system is international, which means that students and colleges in other countries can also participate. 

“Colleges will be able to go out and fill a form and within 24 hours, our team will review that and either grant them access or not,” he said. “One of the things that’s important for us is to make sure that everyone is validated, so we’re not letting unknown people reach out to students; it’s somebody that really is a college coach and really does have opportunities for them to go play at the next level.”

The system has been quietly in operation for a little over a month, but Benson says that plans are already underway to add improvements, apply student and institutional feedback, and add more game titles into Pipeline’s ecosystem.

“This will be an iterative process,” he said. “We want to get it out there because we knew it would be a great value add and we’re actually already seeing traction in students being discovered and picked up by college coaches. And as we get more game titles and relationships on that front, we’ll continue to add those to the Pipeline offering.”

When Benson and his team launched eFuse in 2018, Pipeline was a core part of his vision and something he had been thinking about since his days at Ohio State University, where he spent a semester studying the esports community and the gaming industry. At its heart eFuse is a platform for people who have struggled historically to be discovered in an ocean of young talent and Pipeline is a core part of it. A year-and-a-half ago Benson and the eFuse began laying the groundwork to build it with the help of college coaches in the U.S.

“We created a program called eCab which stands for ‘eFuse Collegiate Advisory Board.’ Essentially we brought 15 of the best coaches in the United States together from a variety of different backgrounds.” 

From there the eFuse team had bi-weekly calls with these coaches to figure out how it recruited traditional sports athletes, and hosted combines to see what they needed to iterate on the process and improve it for esports recruitment.

“Ultimately we built this software that kind of blended the two together; everything that the coaches needed to see from the student’s perspective, but also gave the students an easy way to get their information out there. We ultimately launched it as a soft launch about a month-and-a-half ago, and then last week was the big push of saying ‘we’re here, we’re ready to go, and now it’s out there.’”

Finally, Benson said that eFuse is happy with the early launch of Pipeline and plans a vast number of improvements to make it more useful to both coaches and students looking to facilitate a path to collegiate esports.

“All in all, we’re really pleased with the feedback, and the community adoption, thus far, and are really excited about what that’ll look like as we add more game titles and we formally move into that next improvement cycle,” he said.

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