With the growth of esports continuing to spread onto college campuses, both competitively and in courses, ESPN on Tuesday announced the creation of the College Esports Championship (CEC).
According to a release by ESPN, hundreds of colleges throughout North America will compete in a series of qualifiers, all playing for a spot in the semifinals and finals of the LAN Championship, held May 10-12, during Comicpalooza at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston.
"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."
Among the titles being played in the CEC are Overwatch, Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition, Hearthstone, StarCraft II and Heroes of the Storm. Collegiate Starleague will host the qualifying rounds for Street Fighter V, while Tespa will host the qualifying rounds for the other four games, all developed by Blizzard Entertainment. Capcom is the creator of Street Fighter V.
"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."
Players will compete for college scholarships, according to ESPN. The LAN Championship also will become the only collegiate championship for Overwatch, replacing the championships previously held at the Fiesta Bowl.
The LAN Championship, as well as select qualifying rounds, will be streamed on various platforms, ESPN said.