Riot Games and the American collegiate athletic conference the Big East have entered a partnership to launch the spring 2019 BIG EAST League of Legends championship. Seven out of 10 schools from the Big East Conference will partake. This development should further contribute to the ongoing growth of collegiate esports.
Interest in esports on campuses continues to grow
Starting in January, Butler, DePaul, Marquette, Providence, St. John’s, Seton Hall, and Villanova will compete in the newly launched series. Following a regular season, four of the best teams will battle for the BIG EAST League of Legends championship title. The winner and runner-up will then be given a chance to join the League of Legends College Championship by participating in the tournament’s Play-In.
“As the BIG EAST enters its second year of competitive esports, we are very excited to further our involvement with Riot Games and our League of Legends competition,” said Big East Conference Deputy Commissioner and COO Vince Nicastro. “Interest in esports on our campuses continues to grow and we are proud to be able to provide the opportunity for Big East students to compete on the national stage.”
The Big East competes in the NCAA Division I, the highest level of intercollegiate athletics in the US. Established in 1979, the conference contains schools from the Northeastern and Midwestern regions of the US. It is headquartered in New York City.
“We have continually been impressed by the BIG EAST’s forward-looking approach for how esports can support their membership since we first talked with them in 2016,” said Riot Games College Esports Lead Michael Sherman. “This partnership is a huge step forward for College League of Legends and sets a new precedent for support from a Division I conference.”
In March this year, the Big East partnered with esports giant ESL to launch an esports pilot program. The BIG EAST Esports Invitational Powered by ESL featured Rocket League and League of Legends and was the conference’s initiative to grow esports awareness and participation on college campuses.
Providing students with a gaming outlet
The days when gaming on campuses was a minor activity taking place in the computer room are long gone. With an increasing amount of schools getting involved in the collegiate esports boom, the scene has seen a tremendous amount of growth in the last couple of years.
The League of Legends College Championship, a collegiate competition involving schools in North America, boasted over 300 teams competing in the inaugural season.
By forging various partnerships with established esports organizations, the Power Five conferences of the NCAA look to evolve and evaluate gaming communities currently on campuses.
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