On the heels of Illinois Wesleyan University forming its own intercollegiate esports team, Bloomington-Normal will host the Sixty-Six Games Esports Tournament on Jan. 12 and 13.
Plans for the tournament at Grossinger Motors Arena were announced by the Bloomington-Normal Area Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Bloomington-Normal Sports Commission. State Farm is the title sponsor.
“The esports tournament marks another great addition to our ever-expanding sports market,” said Matt Hawkins, sports marketing manager for the visitors bureau and sports commission.
The tournament is being organized by a committee with representatives of the Central Illinois Regional Broadband Network, PlayNormal Esports, District 87, Red Raccoon Games, Illinois Wesleyan University, Metcalf School and Grossinger Motors Arena, in addition to the bureau and commission.
Callum Fletcher, coach of IWU's esports team, hopes the tournament helps people visualize what esports is.
“Whether you're an avid esports enthusiast, a competitor or a skeptic of esports as a whole, I think this tournament creates opportunities for everybody to get an idea of what esports is and what it could become from the regional to the national level.”
The event will be Central Illinois' first sanctioned, live and in-person League of Legends tournament. There will be a college/open tournament, a high school-only tournament and a one-on-one tournament.
Fletcher said IWU's varsity team will compete, which he hopes will raise its profile and help with recruiting.
Anyone interested in play esports for IWU in the future can fill out an interest form at www.iwu.edu/esports.
Esports tournaments attract not only participants but spectators, said Fletcher, who is excited to have “one in our backyard” and be part of it.
Single-day admission will be $10 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under.
“I suspect we'll have a decent turnout of regional teams, so I think it'll draw a lot of friends and family,” said Fletcher. “Outside of that, I would encourage esports enthusiasts from all around the area to come and spent the weekend taking in some quality competition and enjoy all the other perks of attending the Route 66 event.”
Southern Illinois University at Carbondale announced at its September board of trustees meeting that it is remodeling part of its student center to accommodate esports competition. Plans call for both intramural and intercollegiate competitions.
IWU opened its Esports Arena in September.
Information on team registration and spectator tickets is available at www.sixtysixgames.com.