- ESL and the Big East are teaming to start competitive Rocket League in the conference.
- The conference’s season comes following the success of a pilot event in the spring.
- Competition at an established conference is a sign of growth in collegiate esports.
In conjunction with ESL , the Big East Conference, one of the U.S.’s premiere collegiate athletic conferences, is kicking off the inaugural Big East Esports season Sunday, Oct. 21 with teams competing in developer Psyonix Studio’s Rocket League .
The news comes following the success of a pilot event ESL and the Big East hosted in April, the BIG EAST Esports Invitational Powered by ESL. That event included competition in both Rocket League and Riot Games’ League of Legends (LoL).
During the pilot, the conference and tournament promoter said that they were starting with LoL and Rocket League with plans to expand into competition on other titles in the future. As of now, only Rocket League has been announced for the inaugural season of competition.
Craig Levine, ESL’s Global Chief Strategy Officer, said the tournament organizer is looking to “weave esports into the fabric of campus life through competition, research and curriculum.”
“We anticipate that Big East Esports will help lay the structural foundation for the future of player and fan ecosystems in the U.S.,” he said.
“We believe that competitive esports in the collegiate setting have considerable growth potential.”
Big East deputy commissioner and COO Vince Nicastro called collegiate esports a “rapidly evolving sector.” He added, “We believe that competitive esports in the collegiate setting have considerable growth potential, and our inaugural competition will allow us to connect with a growing number of students that are actively engaged in esports on our campuses.”
DePaul is one of the Big East schools that has seen a growing interest in esports. The school’s director of student involvement Courtney James said, “Recreational esports competition throughout DePaul has proven to be fun and engaging for our students while enhancing important skills such as strategic thinking, teamwork, communications and discipline.”
Matches for the season will be conducted online on tournament platform ESL Play throughout the fall and into the spring of next year, with the top four schools moving on to a playoff that will be streamed on the ESL Rocket League Twitch and the Big East YouTube channels.