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Big Ten Universities Now Compete in Televised eSports Leagues

8 Feb, 2017

By: Michael Popke

It’s no secret that eSports is having a moment. The $600 million global industry boasts its own professional league and is even vying for Olympic status

Now come this piece of news via The New York Times: “Most Big Ten universities will field teams in the multiplayer online game League of Legends and compete in a style resembling conference play, in a partnership with the Big Ten Network. … Besides streaming competitions on the Internet, the Big Ten Network will broadcast select games, including the championship in late March, weekly on its cable network, which is available to more than 60 million households nationally.”

We’re not playing Atari in our Kansas living room anymore, Toto.

The first broadcast on Jan. 30 pitted Rutgers against Maryland and was hailed as a “first-of-its-kind event” by Michael Sherman, head of the competitive collegiate program for Riot Games, League of Legends’ creator.

According to the Times:

In League of Legends, two teams of five — composed of a set of stock characters seemingly inspired by fantasy novels — try to destroy a glowing object, called a nexus, on their opponent’s side.

In the Big Ten Network’s League of Legends season, teams in the Big Ten’s East and West divisions will play each other in best-of-three, round-robin competitions, and the top four from each division will then enter a single-elimination bracket. (The two Big Ten universities not participating this year, Nebraska and Penn State, are in different divisions. The Big Ten has 14 members.)

The Pac-12 also has expressed interest in entering the eSports arena.

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