If you want to watch college kids playing video games, ESPN — yes, ESPN — has you covered.
Blizzard Entertainment today announced details about its “Heroes of the Dorm” video game tournament, which will feature college students from the U.S. and Canada battling it out on Heroes of the Storm with more than $450,000 in college tuition at stake. The winning team will win “free tuition for the rest of their college career,” noted Blizzard, which is partnering with TeSPA for the event.
“College sports do great things for student athletes — they help pay for schooling, build teamwork and communication skills, and create lasting memories,” Mike Morhaime, CEO of Blizzard, said in a statement. “We believe eSports has the same kind of power, and this tournament aims to bring positive experiences like these to college gamers.”
Starting with the Round of 16 — bracket play starts April 11 with 64 teams — ESPN will broadcast live coverage of the competition via its online streaming network, ESPN3, which is available to ESPN cable subscribers and free for 21 million college students that watch while logged into their school Internet network. This marks the first live coverage of a collegiate eSports event on ESPN.
This past summer, ESPN broadcasted Valve’s massive Dota 2 gaming tournament championships from Seattle, even airing a 30-minute preview show on ESPN2 that featured an interview with Valve boss Gabe Newell.
“The Internet is changing what entertainment and sports is,” Newell said on ESPN in July. “It’s not just a few people authoring an experience for others. It’s really growing out of what everybody does.”
ESPN’s coverage of these gaming tournaments speaks to the growing interest in eSports, and the millions of people who enjoy watching gamers compete online. ESPN has dabbled in video games with shows like Madden Nation and has partnered with organizations like Major League Gaming. But the network is making a push into the eSports world with the Dota tournament last year and now with the Heroes of the Dorm coverage.
Just in time for March Madness, the Heroes of the Dorm tournament is also hosting a “fantasy bracket challenge” that will allow anyone to fill out brackets and win money — similar to how ESPN and other sites conduct online contests for the NCAA basketball tournament every year. There is a $25,000 prize pool dedicated just for this challenge, as the person who predicts the final bracket most accurately will take home $10,000.
You can register for the tournament here. Here’s exactly how the winning team will be paid out:
All five members of the first-place team will each enjoy up to $25,000 per year in college tuition for their remaining years of undergrad or graduate enrollment (up to three full years as an undergrad or up to two years as a grad student). Seniors and grad students with no remaining years of enrollment will receive one year’s worth of tuition to help repay student loans (or an equivalent cash prize if the student does not have any remaining student loans).