ESPN and Tespa Announce Collegiate Esports Championship

Wyatt Fossett,

March 13, 2019 9:35 PM

"Growing and dynamic" Esports scene to get a major college tournament hosted by ESPN during this year's Comicpalooza in Houston, Texas.

Following the news that Overwatch League franchise Boston Uprising are launching their own collegiate Overwatch tournament, ESPN came out swinging this week with their own competitive college announcement. In an article and press release published yesterday (Tuesday, March 12th, 2019) ESPN -- one of the world’s leading sports broadcasting and publishing companies -- announced their plans, in partnership with Tespa, for a massive injection of college Esports. With games like Overwatch, StarCraft II, Street Fighter V, Hearthstone, and Heroes of the Storm planned so far, the news is looking pretty good for major spring Esports tournaments.

Dubbed the College Esports Championship (or CEC for short), ESPN is looking to bring as many North American colleges on board as possible. They will play qualifying matches throughout the year in order to secure spots at the ESPN LAN events that will act as semifinals and finals of the CEC. This LAN will take place during Comicpalooza in Houston, Texas, at the Goerge R. Brown Convention Center from May 10th-12th.  

There’s a lot of promise in this announcement. For one, it’s backed by a major brand, and anything the industry can do to further grow the reach and recognition of its major competitions is a huge win. Secondly, it’s not for a single title. ESPN has reported that all five major titles listed above will be a part of the Collegiate Esports Tournament, making the catch for audience, and potential college programs far wider than most other tournament infrastructures. 

Collegiate Scrims from the Columbus Cougars Esports team
Collegiate Scrims from the Columbia Cougars Esports team

The inclusion of Heroes of the Storm is very interesting, considering that Blizzard themselves aren’t even supporting Heroes of the Storm Esports anymore. Even more so if one considers that Blizzard was most likely very aware of ESPN's planned announcement prior to their decision to cut internal support. It also seems like ESPN is putting a heavier weight into the Overwatch presence, stating that the CEC will be the only certified collegiate championship for Overwatch. With those two factors in mind, it's easy to see how Blizzard may have a bigger stake in this giant tournament than is outlined in any of the information released to the public at this point. 

The press release also mentioned that players will be competing for college scholarship funds, and will provide Esports athletes with a tournament to “showcase their talent in high-level competition on some of the most prominent Esports titles” said Vice President of Digital Media Programming for ESPN, John Lasker. Clint Overby, vice president of ESPN Events, said, “We are excited to launch this event with an outstanding lineup of games in a world-class city like Houston. The esports landscape is a growing and dynamic space, and will fit nicely into our lineup of ESPN-owned events.”

ESPN could be onto something very large here, and it’s pretty exciting to see more collegiate opportunities in the Esports realm. One question comes to mind though; if ESPN is setting out on this new mission to bring fantastic and fresh opportunities to Esports athletes, and they’re including the Fighting Game Community (by listing titles like Street Fighter V), then why are they holding this tournament during the exact time, in almost the exact place, that the Texas Showdown is happening?

Are you excited to see where ESPN and Tespa take their Collegiate Esports Championship? Are they missing any games that you would like to see?

[image courtesy of Columbia Cougars Esports]


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