A full field of 22 qualifying teams from 20 schools boiled down to five victors at the first-ever ESPN Collegiate Esports Championship (CEC) this weekend in Houston, Texas, with Georgia Tech, Harrisburg University, Rutgers University, University of California Berkeley and New Jersey Institute of Technology besting their fields. All of the winning teams will receive prizing in the form of scholarships at their respective universities.
“Congratulations to all of those who participated and who won their respective divisions of the inaugural ESPN Collegiate Esports Championship,” said Clint Overby, vice president of ESPN Events. “The response from the collegiate esports community has been overwhelmingly positive and our team is looking forward to exploring ways to grow and build in this industry.”
The LAN (local area network) weekend, part of Comicpalooza at the George R. Brown Convention Center, included semifinals and finals for each of the games competing, and was produced and staged by ESPN Events. Hosted by popular streamers Alex “Goldenboy” Mendez, Anna Prosser and Alex Corea, fans were able to tune in to all the action via the ESPN Esports’ Twitch channel, and will be able to view it on ESPN Esports’ YouTube channel and the ESPN app. Additionally, a full recap of the exciting weekend will air May 23 at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN2.
On Saturday evening the first national champion crowned was Georgia Tech, defeating University of Minnesota to take home the gold in the Hearthstone® championship. Regarding their win, Shiv Chopra, one of the three players on the Georgia Tech team, said: “We chose an uncommon deck, focused on each match at hand. We were considered the underdogs yet swept the semifinal and final 3-0.”
Harrisburg University defeated University of Utah 3-1 to become Overwatch® national champions. “The rush after winning that was incredible,” said Soames Lovett-Darby following the trophy presentation. Harrisburg University, a favorite going into the weekend, began an esports program in 2018 and brought on some of the top college players in the country for the startup program.
After California State Polytechnic University – Pomona took the first match in the Heroes of the Storm® championship, Rutgers University came back to win it all. “Heroes of the Storm is my favorite game, I know there are other games that maybe have better rewards or are more popular but this my favorite game, this is what I love to play every day so I’m really happy to have the competition here at CEC since it’s been around for so long,” said Rutgers player Dominick Maisano.
University of California Berkeley defended their title to win the StarCraft® II championship. After winning the first map, University of Chicago took one map before UC Berkeley dominated the final three maps to come out on top. “It was really great to win Tespa for the second time and even better to have won it at the first CEC ever,” said UC Berkeley player Ryan Quick. “Competing at CEC has been a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
In the final competition of the weekend, New Jersey Institute of Technology was crowned national champion in Street Fighter™ V: Arcade Edition. In addition to scholarship money for NJIT, the winners of the Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition championship also received Sony PlayStation 4 consoles.
More information on the Collegiate Esports Championship can be found at www.espnevents.com/collegiate-esports-championship.
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Olivia Wilson, ESPN Esports Communications, 904-303-3538, [email protected]