While esports had existed in some manner for a long time, the space has experienced an explosion in popularity and exposure within the last few years. Behind games like “League of Legends,” “Overwatch,” and more recently “Fortnite,” skilled gamers can now make a regular living off of playing video games at the highest level.
Even colleges are starting to build teams and offer courses for esports, and the biggest sports network on the planet wants in.
ESPN has announced via Reuters that it will be holding its inaugural College Esports Championship, with hundreds of qualifying matches occurring at college across the country. This will culminate with the semifinals and finals that will take place May 10 to May 12 at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston during Comicpalooza.
John Lasker, ESPN’s VP of Digital Media Programming, spoke about the CEC, saying “As universities continue to grow their esports programs at the varsity, non-varsity and club levels, we’re proud to be providing a platform for national exposure and recognition of some of the most talented players in the collegiate space.”
Players and teams will be competing across five games: “Hearthstone,” “Heroes of the Storm,” “StarCraft II,” “Overwatch,” and “Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition.”
Games like “Overwatch” and “Street Fighter” being part of this is unsurprising, given the popularity of each in the esports scene with the Overwatch League and EVO Fighting Tournaments, respectively. Same can be said of “StarCraft II” and “Hearthstone” which Blizzard has supported faithfully for years now.
It’s the announcement of “Heroes of the Storm” being used during the CEC should come as good news to the game’s professional circuit.
Blizzard announced in December it wouldn’t be holding the “Heroes of the Storm” Global Championship in 2019, which many pros viewed as the end of their careers. But with this news from ESPN, there is hope that the pro scene for “Heroes of the Storm” may endure.