ESPN Launching Its Own College Esports Championships

March 13, 2019

ESPN is launching, and will own, the first U.S. collegiate championship for esports.

The ESPN Collegiate Esports Championship (CEC) has already lined up hundreds of universities from across North America for the qualifiers, shooting for a chance to compete in the live LAN (local area network) semi-final and championship in Houston in May.

Overwatch, Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition, Hearthstone, StarCraft II and Heroes of the Storm are among the first games to be announced as a part of the LAN Championship event.

Finalists will compete for rewards in the form of scholarships.

Tespa and Collegiate Star League will hold qualifying rounds for Blizzard’s games and Street Fighter V, respectively. The CEC will become Overwatch’s only collegiate championship, previously held at the Fiesta Bowl.

Tespa is the premier college gaming network in North America and has had more than 42,000 students from 1,300 universities compete in its college tournaments.

Collegiate Star League, a division of WorldGaming, has over 52,000 registered players across 1,600 registered schools. Since 2009, it has awarded over $650,000 in scholarship money to student gamers from around the world.

“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,” said John Lasker, Vice President of Digital Media Programming for ESPN. “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.”

The championship in Houston will take place May 10 -12 at the George R Brown Convention Center during the Comicpalooza Weekend and will be produced and staged by ESPN Events. Individual day tickets and three-day passes start at just $15 and can be purchased online from ESPN.

Portions of the qualifying rounds, as well as the championship, will be streamed globally, with ESPN to announce later which platforms it will use.

The Overwatch matches in particular will also shown on the livestreaming video platform Twitch, owned by Inc

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 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,” said Todd Pawlowski, senior vice president, live experiences, Blizzard Entertainment. “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.”

Wim Stocks, General Manager and CEO of WorldGaming and CSL, said, “We are thrilled to have the elite collegiate teams from our very first Collegiate StarLeague’s Street Fighter League: US-College 2019 series included in the inaugural ESPN CEC event in Houston. We are looking forward to being part of the great spotlight ESPN will shine on the burgeoning collegiate esports scene as a result of their CEC event.”