The East Coast Conference (ECC) and the Peach Belt Conference (PBC) are joining Riot’s collegiate League of Legends competition. The former will add seasons in 2019 and 2020. Then, the latter will add the game for its 2019, 2020, and 2021 seasons.
Each conference to host own championship
Starting in January, the ECC and PBC will each host its own conference championship at the end of the regular season. The champions from each will get the chance to join the League of Legends College Championship.
“The East Coast Conference is excited to be partnering with League of Legends and Riot Games as we move into the world of collegiate esports,” said ECC Commissioner Robert Dranoff.
“We are very excited to be continuing our relationship with Riot Games for another three years,” said PBC Commissioner David Brunk. “Our first season of League of Legends was groundbreaking in so many ways, and we are grateful to Riot and Michael Sherman for their support through that season into our live conference championship.”
Both the ECC and PBC have been in the collegiate game for quite some time now. Originally established in 1989, the East Coast Conference aims to enhance collegiate competition and to assist member institutions in integrating athletics into their academic program. The PBC, operating since 1991, was the first NCAA conference to hold an esports championship, which took place this year.
“Since Robert Morris University became the first school in 2014 to launch a varsity League of Legends program and offer scholarships for gamers, ambitious colleges and athletic conferences have looked for opportunities to bring esports to their students,” said Riot Games College Esports Lead Michael Sherman. “We are working hard to continue expanding League of Legends into additional athletic conferences and are excited to have these two on board for future seasons.”
Collegiate esports boom
The collegiate esports scene has been growing steadily in the last couple of years. The area attracted a lot of interest from an increasing number of schools. Close to 300 teams have already signed up for competition.
Moreover, there has also been no lack of strategic partnerships forged in this scene. Riot and the Big Ten Network, for example, recently extended a successful relationship for the League of Legends collegiate competition.
“There’s so much more exposure [in the college scene] now,” League of Legends caster Joshua “Pheqes” Quest told ESPN during an interview. “There is just so much more exposure. The pioneering of Robert Morris University and bringing in scholarships has spread to so many different schools, and that’s only good.”
As more and more colleges welcome esports varsity teams, the competitive landscape opens up new opportunities. What was once a small scene is now a big industry that shows no signs of slowing down.