For the first time ever, an ESPN TV network will be carrying live e-sports! ESPN2 is scheduled to broadcast the final round of the collegiate Heroes of the Dorm championship starting at 6:30pm PT on Sunday night.
The televised tournament will match the final two teams in the tournament battle in Heroes of the Storm, a Blizzard-developed multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game similar to League of Legends and Dota 2, according to Engadget and VentureBeat. Semifinal matches will be aired on ESPN’s online-online network, ESPN3, earlier in the day, the website added.
This will mark the first time that an e-sports competition will be aired by one of the “worldwide leader in sports” family of television networks. Last year’s League of Legends and Dota 2 finals aired on ESPN3, and ESPN2 also broadcast a documentary of the latter in 2014.
Professional gaming’s growing popularity
ESPN’s decision to air the Heroes of the Dorm finals comes just months after network president John Skipper apparently dismissed the possibility of television e-sports tournaments, saying back in September, that is was “a competition” like chess or checkers, not a sport, Engadget noted. He added that he was “mostly interested in doing real sports.”
“This shows that ESPN is definitely interested in e-sports, which is a market that is growing as a rapid pace,” VentureBeat explained. “Millions of young people – often in the key advertising demographic of 13-to-35-years-old men – regularly tune into watch livestreaming e-sports matches on sites like MLG.tv and Twitch.”
“And professional gaming could even dig into the NFL, MLB, and NBA over the next few decades as young people decide to stick with e-sports as they grow older,” the website added, noting that some analysts have predicted that professional gaming could generate more than $450 million in revenue from advertising, ticket sales and more by the year 2017.
As for the event itself, the Heroes of the Dorm semifinals (dubbed the “Heroic Four” by Blizzard) will get underway Sunday with a match pitting Arizona State versus Boston College at 2:30pm PT. This is followed two hours later by the other semifinal, Illinois Urbana-Champaign versus Cal. Following the conclusion of that match, coverage will shift from ESPN3 to ESPN2.
So grab your Mountain Dew and Doritos and get watching, you crazy kids!