A person sits at a computer and plays a video game.

Esports is a rapidly growing industry offering entertainment along with career paths for those interested in the world of competitive gaming.  

Bernard Mafei, senior administrator of Esports at Humber, now has four varsity teams for the games “League of Legends," “Valorant," “Call of Duty” and “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate” that compete in various leagues and tournaments. There’s also the Humber Esports Club he launched shortly after arriving that has grown to more than 1,300 members in its Discord community.

A smiling person wearing a headset sits at a computer with their hands on the keyboard.

Mafei says Humber Esports is about fostering a supportive community where students can excel in competition, discover career pathways, enhance their abilities and engage with a network that enriches their educational journey.  

Building community through gaming

Mafei speaks from firsthand experience as he was a “Super Smash Bros. Melee” competitor in his teenage years, travelling across the continent to compete. At one point he was ranked number one in Canada for the game and as high as 51st in world.  

He thoroughly enjoyed being a part of that community and wanted to provide a similar experience for Humber students.   

“Regardless of whether you’re following the mainstream competitive teams or just like games and are finding esports for the first time, I wanted a place where everybody felt like they could belong,” said Mafei.  

He’s tapped into the Humber student body to hire staff for the varsity teams including coaches, graphic designers, stream technicians and more. They also hired a Humber alumnus as a part-time social media assistant dedicated to esports.

Humber Esports has two primary gaming areas at North Campus. The Barrett CTI Esports Hub in the Barrett Centre for Technology Innovation and what’s known as the Esports Dojo in LB109.

Humber’s varsity program has been recognized by Esport Canada, an organization that works to promote the growth and development of esports participation and excellence at all levels of play. Melissa Burns, Esports Canada founder and CEO, says being recognized as a varsity program will help solidify Humber as a forerunner in this rapidly advancing market, a status that is established and awarded through the collective advocacy and support of post-secondary institutions across the country

Burns said their post-secondary division has developed standards of excellence that will help the school programs be sustainable and resilient while supporting player development. They also offer workshops throughout the year and recently held one to help students find employment in the sector. Mafei was part of that workshop.

Finding a career in the esport industry

Esports continues to grow in popularity and that means more opportunities for employment in the industry are emerging. As a graduate of Canada’s first-ever esports diploma program, Mafei is a huge believer in the power of an esports-driven education to unlock transferable skills and lead to a career.  

Humber has launched a micro-credential in Esports Social Media Management. It has students learning to engage esports communities, create compelling content and leverage social media platforms to promote teams, events and brands within the competitive gaming ecosystem.  

Three people put their hands on their head in astonishment while watching others play video games.

Mafei says it’s a great example of how esports can be a career path for those with a passion for competitive gaming.   

Humber will also be hosting a stop on the TEKKEN World Tour when Incendium stages the Electric Clash 2024 challenger event on April 20 at North Campus. TEKKEN is a popular fighting game and the world tour is an international tournament series where top players compete for prizes and to be crowned the champion.  

“We’ve never had this level of an esports event at Humber before,” said Mafei. “It’s a great opportunity for the Humber community to come and watch some of the best in the world duke it out.”  

Mafei noted some of Humber Esports varsity staff will have an opportunity to work contract positions at the tournament where they would receive pay and could include it on their resumes.

More information can be found at the Humber Esports linktr.ee page.