The Pac-12 is getting in on the eSports craze.
The conference on Tuesday announced that it will host and broadcast eSports competitions, with teams representing each of its universities. The decision to launch the tournaments was based on “growing interest amongst Pac-12 students in competitive video gaming.”
“eSports is a natural fit for many of our universities located in the technology and media hubs of the country,” Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said in a statement. “Pac-12 Networks’ commitment to innovation as well as its natural tie to our universities and established media platform make it the perfect organization to develop the framework for eSports intercollegiate competition.”
The conference will announce specific games and event formats in the coming months. There will be head-to-head match-ups in “studios,” as well as Pac-12 championship event.
The Pac-12 noted that its universities, which include schools up and down the West Coast like the University of Washington, Stanford, and USC, “are increasingly involved through passionate student groups competing in competitions with popular games.” There have been separate eSports collegiate tournaments over the past few years, including “Heroes of the Dorm,” which was broadcast on ESPN (a team from Pac-12 school Arizona State won the event).
— ESPN Esports (@ESPN_Esports) April 11, 2016
The Big Ten also hosted the “BTN Invitational” in April as part of a League of Legends tournament.
— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) April 25, 2016
Along with the Pac-12’s announcement this week, these are all examples of eSports’ growing popularity and how competitive video gaming is entering the mainstream. The global eSports market is expected to grow 43 percent this year to $463 million, and to $1.1 billion by 2019. It’s not only about the professional gamers, too, as eSports is becoming a huge spectator sport.