ESPN Creates Monumental Esports Moments
In response to the rapid growth of competitive esports at college campuses around the world, ESPN has created its first-ever collegiate esports championship. With the creation of what is now known as College Esports Championship (CEC), hundreds of colleges across North America had the opportunity to compete in a series of qualifiers, all playing for a spot in the semifinals and finals of the LAN (local area network) Championship, which was held May 10-12. The event was held during Comicpalooza at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, where 22 qualifying teams from 20 schools secured their spots in the LAN semi-finals and championships.
According to an ESPN report, among the titles played in the CEC are Overwatch, Hearthstone, Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition, StarCraft II, and Heroes of the Storm. Collegiate Starleague will host the qualifying rounds for Street Fighter V (created by Capcom), reports ESPN, while Tespa, a North American collegiate esports organization headquartered in the offices of Blizzard Entertainment, will host the qualifying rounds for the other four games—all developed by Blizzard.
Senior Vice President of Live Experiences at Blizzard Todd Pawlowski said, "ESPN has been a terrific collaborator with Blizzard Esports over the years, having created monumental esports moments together, and we couldn't be more excited to team up again to provide our collegiate players the opportunity to finish out the spring Tespa season on the big stage.”
"It'll be a first for Blizzard to have four collegiate championship events under one roof, which should make for an awesome show for the fans,” he said.
"As universities continue to grow their esports programs at the varsity, non-varsity and club levels,” explained ESPN Vice President of Digital Media Programming John Lasker, “we're proud to be providing a platform for national exposure and recognition of some of the most talented players in the collegiate space.”
“Through our collaboration with top publishers in the industry, players will be able to showcase their talent in high-level competition on some of the most prominent esports titles,” he said.
Players competed for college scholarships and the LAN Championship became the only collegiate championship for Overwatch, replacing the championships previously held at the Fiesta Bowl.
At the event, which streamed globally on ESPN Esports’ Twitch Channel, the sports network launched EXP, a new gaming series featuring esports competitions at ESPN-owned events. Through a collaboration with leading global games publisher Electronic Arts (EA), Apex Legends will continue the EXP series at two ESPN events: 2019 ESPYS and X Games Minneapolis 2019.
ESPN says, “future EXP competitions will include a mix of professional, collegiate, and pro-am formats, with multiple game IPs and genres featured across the series. Live event distribution will be via multiple digital platforms including the ESPN app, and a tape-delayed show focused on key moments and storylines will debut on ESPN and ABC after each event.”
“ESPN Announces Creation of College Esports Championship.” ESPN.com. Hearst Communications, Inc., 12 Mar. 2019. Web. 20 Sep. 2019.
“ESPN Announces EXP Esports Event Series.” ESPN.com. Hearst Communications, Inc., 04 Jun. 2019. Web. 20 Sep. 2019.
“First-Ever ESPN Collegiate Esports Championship Finalizes Participating Schools.” SportsVideo.org. Sports Video Group (SVG), 01 May 2019. Web. 20 Sep. 2019.