Over the past few years, eSports-based events have transformed from tiny convention center gatherings to worldwide phenomena. DotA 2’s The International event, for example, brings in tons of worldwide attention and generates millions of dollars in both revenue and player prize money.
eSports has become so prolific, in fact, that many have turned competitive gaming into a profession, using anything from StarCraft 2 to League of Legends to pay their bills. Even then, eSports has plenty of room to grow, and starting this month it will make its next big leap: college.
During a PAX East panel earlier today, Blizzard announced a new eSports competition they are calling Heroes of the Dorm. As the name suggests, college students will be competing against each other in games of Heroes of the Storm for a chance at $450,000 in prize money.
Players will complete in teams of 5 like any MOBA tournament, starting first with a qualifying round and then moving on to a single-elimination bracket. Things get interesting from there, as the event transitions to the Heroic Four, a live event that will air on ESPN in late April. This will mark the first time that collegiate eSports has been broadcast on live television, further paving the way for its legitimacy.
That lucky team who survives the live event will come away with up to $25,000 per year for their remaining years in college. However, if the student doesn’t have any years left, they will be given a year’s worth of tuition to pay back student loans. Essentially, it’s better to get in on Heroes of the Dorm as a freshman and reap the full benefits.
Although Blizzard has been a major player in the eSports scene for quite some time, thanks to StarCraft and more recently Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm could be their biggest platform yet. This partnership with ESPN means big things not just for eSports but also for Heroes of the Storm as a legitimate option in competitive gaming. Not only that, this competition gives younger gamers a chance to turn their hobby (obsession?) into a shot at free education.
It also appears that we are on the cusp of eSports legitimacy in the general sports world, with ESPN now carrying events like The International and Heroes of the Dorm. As we see it, it’s only a matter of time before an awesome win in League of Legends ends up on SportsCenter’s Top Plays.
What do you think of the Heroes of the Dorm competition? Is eSports starting to become more legitimate?