Published on April 18th, 2016 | by Neil Jordan0
Blizzards Heroes Of The Dorm 2016
Since video games first appeared, the idea that they would one day merge with professional sports was not an unheard of concept albeit a controversial one and was even floated around in editorials, works of fiction, and even within gaming companies themselves. The two worlds have been on a collision course and there was no doubt that they would one day merge. On the weekend of April 9th and 10th, the worlds of college sports and video games collided at the Century Link Field Events Center where the ‘Heroes Of The Dorm’ Finals took place between the four remaining teams out of the 64 original collegiate teams, competing against one another not just for the championship but also the grand prize of tuition costs being covered for every team member for their entire college career in Blizzard Entertainment’s blockbuster ‘Heroes Of The Storm’!
I myself watch more sports than I play video games and I was taken aback by how big this has recently become. It strangely surprised me how similar it was watching a video game competition as it is watching a baseball game or a soccer match for example. You’re watching players compete on a field in competition only one is virtual while the other is non-virtual. E-Sports is not exactly an NCAA thing yet, but its popularity is gaining more steam year after year. The competition between the four remaining teams University Of Texas – Arlington, Arizona State, University Of Tennessee – Knoxville, and the University Of Connecticut was broadcast live on ESPN 2 and ESPN U with family members of the students, college sports fans, gaming fans, as well members of the press all in attendance.
One of the aspects that impressed me most was how psyched the fans and the students from the schools who were competing in the event were. Not all the schools involved had any sort of e-sports clubs on campus according to some of the competitors. Some of the teams competing took it upon themselves to do this on their own and many of the fans that were school students showed up to the event on their own accord to support the teams from their respective learning institutions. It’s only after all this that some of schools have seen the popularity and the potential and have begun to explore the idea of supporting said teams. Like college and pro sports, the concept of ‘good sportsmanship’ was also a big thing between the competitors and it showed during the team press conferences and during competitions. There was a certain amount of ‘trash talk’ at some junctures but it was never out of hostility or disrespect and all the teams expressed the idea the it was just as important in e-sports as it is in any other sport that the idea is to compete, represent their school, and to have fun.
As it turned out, the two remaining teams UT – Arlington and Arizona state, had also been the final two teams in last year’s ‘Heroes Of The Dorm’ competition so there was definitely an added intensity during the event and the press played it up like it was a showdown between two fierce collegiate sports rivals. Would UT – Arlington avenge the defeat from the previous year or would Arizona State reign supreme for a second year in a row? Now this is another part that REALLY gets interesting. Could this very well be the birth of what might become a ‘legendary’ sports rivalry? For over two hours UT – Arlington and Arizona State battled it out in the virtual world of ‘Heroes Of The Storm’ with sports fans, gaming fans, and their families in attendance and around the world rallying their support. In the end, it was a clean sweep. Arizona State winning three straight rounds despite a valiant effort by UT – Arlington to become the ‘Heroes Of The Dorm’ Champions!
One school triumphed and won great victory and prestige …. Another school made an incredibly valiant effort but endured the agony of defeat. Both were present in the venue that night. Like any other sporting event. Like any other sporting event, the knowledge that there would be another year, another competition, was also in the air. Perhaps the same teams, perhaps different teams.That sense that it was going to happen? That’s what ultimately convince me with absolute certainty that e-sports is NOT just some ‘thing’ some ‘fad’ that’s going to be here one day and gone the next. It’s ‘real’ and it’s only just beginning.