ESPN to launch its own collegiate video game sports championship
CGTN

ESPN will hold its first ever college championship for competitive video gaming later this year, the TV sports network said on Tuesday, a high-profile e-sports event aimed at younger fans who spend more time with game controllers than baseball bats or hockey sticks.

ESPN Events, a unit of Walt Disney Co's cable sports network that also produces a lineup of other sports events such as the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl, will produce the Collegiate E-sports Championship (CEC).

The showdown will be held in Houston at Comicpalooza at the George R. Brown Convention Center in May. Players will compete in five games: Overwatch, Hearthstone, StarCraft II, Heroes of the Storm and Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition.

Attendees of the E3 Electronic Entertainment Expo play the Capcom Co. Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition video game in Los Angeles, California, U.S., June 13, 2018. /VCG Photo

Attendees of the E3 Electronic Entertainment Expo play the Capcom Co. Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition video game in Los Angeles, California, U.S., June 13, 2018. /VCG Photo

Street Fighter is made by Japan's Capcom Co Ltd; the other featured games were developed by Blizzard Entertainment, a division of Activision Blizzard Inc.

As professional e-sports tournaments have expanded in the last couple of years, so too have college-level games, with schools developing their own competitive teams as they would for traditional sports.

Schools like the University of Nevada, Las Vegas now offer e-sports labs and course work, and the University of California at Irvine even has its own e-sports arena and summer camp.

"As universities continue to grow their e-sports 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 ESPN's Digital Media Programming, in a statement.

Spectators and fans cheer for the e-sports gamers of the Philadelphia Fusion and London Spitfire teams during the Activision Blizzard Inc. Overwatch League Grand Finals in New York, U.S., July 27, 2018. /VCG Photo

Spectators and fans cheer for the e-sports gamers of the Philadelphia Fusion and London Spitfire teams during the Activision Blizzard Inc. Overwatch League Grand Finals in New York, U.S., July 27, 2018. /VCG Photo

The CEC will also become Overwatch's only collegiate championship. Prizes will be in the form of college scholarships, ESPN said.

Players will come from the hundreds of North American schools currently competing in qualifying matches hosted by e-sports companies Collegiate Starleague and Tespa.

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 be shown on the live-streaming video platform Twitch, owned by Amazon.com Inc.

Source(s): Reuters