Collegiate esports have remained fairly niche in the industry despite acquiring support from some larger organizations such as Evil Geniuses. Now, a new tournament series supported by the Gaming Community Network (GCN) and Van Wagner will be “the most-comprehensive, large-scale national esports tournament[s] to reach the collegiate marketplace.” Each event in the series will feature teams from 10 NCAA conferences, with the top two finishers of each tournament advancing to play into a national tournament.
Participating conferences include America East Conference, Big South Conference, Big West Conference, Colonial Athletic Association, Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, Southland Conference, Sun Belt Conference, West Coast Conference, Western Athletic Conference and the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association.
Van Wagner is the exclusive multimedia rights partner for each of the participating NCAA conferences, and will work to secure sponsorships for the events as part of year-round efforts.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for students at Big West Conference institutions to participate and compete in esports against institutions and conferences across the country,” said Big West Conference Commissioner, Dan Butterly in a press release. “The Big West is excited to partner with Van Wagner and GCN on this initiative and we look forward to the growth of collegiate esports and watching students at our institutions compete.”
The first tournament will be held in May 2021 virtually with a specific focus on Fortnite. The winner and runner-up from each conference tournament will compete in the Championship Tournament. They’ll also have the chance to receive cash prizes and scholarships. Students from any member school from participating conferences can create a team to compete.
All matches will be live on the Official Van Wagner Esports Twitch Channel, as well as co-streamed on each team and conference’s Twitch channels. The tournament will also be amplified by GCN “across 85+ gaming and esports centric websites to enhance viewership and messaging.”
“This is an exciting opportunity to connect the 110 member schools of our participating partner NCAA conferences to provide an opportunity to compete in national tournaments,” continued Van Wagner Senior Vice President Mark Donley. “These tournaments will be open to the member schools esports teams as well as any of the over 1.4 million students enrolled at these institutions who wish to participate.”
“Delivering great events and experiences for our gaming and esports community is in our DNA, and we couldn’t be happier to partner with a pioneer like Van Wagner to completely change the collegiate esports landscape,” added Chris Kindt, Chief Marketing Officer of GCN. “We are forging a new era for college students, and we’re building an engaging and exciting event for brands to showcase their value to a captive audience.”
The tournament series will progress into the fall and winter with two new game formats carrying tournaments similar to the one coming in May. Future tournaments will be determined in 2022.
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