Shawn Smith

CEO, Harena Data

Shawn Smith is the CEO and founder of Harena Data, an esports data acquisition and analysis company. Harena Data created GYO Score, an esports sabermetrics platform aiming to help competitive athletes find scholarships, team opportunities, and employment in the esports industry. Since its creation, GYO Score has helped more than 200 esports athletes receive college scholarships relating to esports and continues to grow every day.


More and more universities are expanding their collegiate sports programs to provide esports offerings for future students. While the barrier of entry for esports is more inclusive than traditional sports (due to ease of access and physical requirements), the upside is substantially greater. Esports offers a high-growth, high-return solution for both universities and players interested in pursuing it at a collegiate level.

As an analytics platform, we conducted a study analyzing the correlation between esports athletes and their desired college majors - and the results were staggering. We found that more than 50 percent of esports athletes primarily interested in pursuing college majors in the STEM Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) category. When compared to traditional athletes, esports players appear to have a higher variety of desired majors and study focuses than athletes pursuing a path with traditional sports such as football and basketball. A 2016 study found college football athletes pursued degrees in business/finance and arts/social sciences much more heavily than degrees related to STEM degrees.

What does this mean for colleges? More athletes pursuing high-paying careers and, in return, a likely higher graduation rate of STEM-focused grads. This can lead to better donations from alumni, improved programs relating to sciences, and an overall improvement in a college’s brands. For players, this can lead to more scholarship opportunities, expanded esports opportunities, and pursuing a degree at more competitive esports schools.

This talk will take audiences through the study and its finding, the scholarship growth of esports for schools and athletes, and what the future of collegiate esports looks like.