ESPN announces EXP esports event series

Hunter Bogers of Harrisburg University competes in Overwatch during the Collegiate Esports Championship. On Wednesday, ESPN announced EXP, a series of ESPN-sanctioned esports competitions, which began at the CEC in Houston last month. Gabriel Christus / ESPN Images

ESPN announced on Wednesday the creation of EXP, a new gaming series featuring esports competitions at ESPN-owned events, which kicked off in May at the first-ever Collegiate Esports Championship. Through a collaboration with Electronic Arts, Apex Legends will continue the EXP series at two ESPN events this summer: the 2019 ESPYS and X Games Minneapolis 2019.

Future EXP competitions will include a mix of professional, collegiate and pro-am formats, with multiple game IPs and genres featured across the series. Live event distribution will be via multiple digital platforms including the ESPN app, and a tape-delayed show focused on key moments and storylines will debut on ESPN and ABC after each event.

"Leaning in to esports represents ESPN's focus on serving sports fans and expanding audiences," Justin Connolly, executive vice president of Disney & ESPN affiliate sales and marketing, said in a statement. "We remain committed to serving gaming fans across all platforms and content types, and Apex Legends is the perfect title to showcase EXP's vision of offering world-class live esports events anchored by storytelling and multi-platform distribution."

The EXP Pro-Am Apex Legends competition will bring together celebrities, influencers and athletes in Los Angeles during ESPYS week on July 11. The EXP Invitational, also featuring Apex Legends, will be at X Games Minneapolis will take place Aug. 1-4 at U.S. Bank Stadium.

From June 12 to 22, ESPN fans will have the opportunity to win a spot to play Apex Legends alongside athletes, celebrities and influencers and attend the 2019 ESPYS by donating for a chance to win the ESPYS Sweepstakes. Fans can donate to enter beginning June 12 at ebay.com/ESPN. The EXP Invitational -- Apex Legends at X Games Minneapolis features an open qualification format.

"We are proud ESPN continues to be at the forefront of the growth and popularity of esports, collaborating with some of the top publishers in the industry including EA for our first-ever esports event series," said John Lasker, vice president of digital programming at ESPN. "EXP, short for experience, has been central to gaming history, and giving fans a great experience is central to our strategy at ESPN."

The Collegiate Esports Championship, which kicked off the EXP series, was held at the George R. Brown Convention Center as part of Comicpalooza in Houston. Students from all over North America competed in Overwatch, Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition, Hearthstone, StarCraft II and Heroes of the Storm at the LAN championship event.