ESPN, the Disney-owned sports broadcaster, has launched a new college esports tournament that will be streamed globally.
The ESPN Collegiate Esports Championship (CEC) will see students from hundreds of colleges across North America compete for gaming scholarships.
The series, which will become the only college esports event to feature Blizzard’s gaming title Overwatch, will include qualifiers hosted by California-based esports operator Tespa and the Collegiate StarLeague (CSL), the world’s first college gaming organisation.
Winners will then progress to the series local area network (LAN) semi-final and championship final events, to be held in Houston between 10th and 12th May.
John Lasker, ESPN’s vice president for digital media programming, said: “As universities continue to grow their esports programmes 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.
“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 series will be produced by the ESPN Events team, a division of ESPN that owns and operates a large portfolio of 33 collegiate sporting events worldwide. The broadcaster said that it will announce at a later date the platforms it plans to use for livestreams.
In addition to Overwatch, other Blizzard franchises including Hearthstone, StarCraft II and Heroes of the Storm, as well as Capcom’s Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition, make up the championship’s first confirmed games.
Tespa and the CSL will host the qualifying rounds for Blizzard’s games and Street Fighter V, respectively.
“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, Blizzard Entertainment’s senior vice president for live experiences.
“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.”