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Gaming Community Network (GCN) and Van Wagner have teamed up to create national collegiate esports tournaments across multiple games. The first game competition will take place in May with Epic Games’ Fortnite.
GCN is an independent media group dedicated to gaming and esports, and Van Wagner is an advisory group that represents more than 110 colleges. Their tournament will be the largest national esports tournament to reach the collegiate marketplace, the companies said.
If the college esports events can succeed, the tournaments can feed talent to professional esports leagues. The global esports audience will grow to 474.0 million in 2021, a year-on-year growth of 8.7%. Esports enthusiasts (those who watch more than once a month) will account for just under half of this number (234 million), according to game and esports data firm Newzoo.
Each event in the series will feature teams from 10 NCAA conferences, with the top two finishers of each tournament advancing to play into a national tournament to crown an overall champion.
The participating conferences will be America East Conference, Big South Conference, Big West Conference, Colonial Athletic Association, Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, Southland Conference, Sun Belt Conference, West Coast Conference, Western Athletic Conference, and the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association.
Van Wagner is the exclusive multimedia rights partner for each of the participating NCAA conferences. Van Wagner will be working to secure corporate sponsorships for these events as part of year-round efforts with each respective conference.
The first tournament will be held in May 2021 virtually for the 10 conferences competing in Fortnite. The winner and runnerup from each conference tournament will play in the Championship Tournament, as well as receive cash prizes or scholarships, along with the bragging rights as a champion.
Students from any member school from the participating conferences can form a team to compete. Teams within the 10 conferences can submit their entry starting on April 21.
All matches will be broadcast live via stream on the Official Van Wagner Esports Twitch Channel, as well as co-streamed on each team and conference’s Twitch site if they request it. The tournament will also be carried by GCN across 85 gaming and esports-centric websites to enhance viewership and messaging. GCN reaches 65 million monthly uniques in the U.S.
Van Wagner senior vice president Mark Donley said in a statement that 110 member schools will participate, tapping into as many as 1.4 million students.
The tournament series will continue into the fall and winter with two new game formats to challenge the participating conferences as they continue their quest for a championship in a similar format to the tournament in May, as well as, future tournaments to be determined in 2022.
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