The Mountain West Conference Basketball Championship Tournaments will feature new competitors when the games begin tomorrow and continue through Saturday, March 8-10.
In addition to men’s and women’s basketball teams from every university in the league, collegiate esports teams from Boise State and the University of Nevada-Reno will compete in the first-ever Mountain West eSports Showdown. Edtech faculty members Chris Haskell and Brett Shelton elevated esports from club competitions to official varsity status at Boise State. The College of Education and the College of Innovation and Design also jumped on board to support the effort. , Haskell and Shelton were instrumental in creating the esports presence at the Mountain West Basketball Championships
The MW eSports Showdown will feature matches in League of Legends, Rocket League, and Overwatch. Boise State and the University of Nevada-Las Vegas are the only Mountain West schools to compete in this inaugural league championship for esports.
Teams of 15 players will participate in show matches, or exhibitions, from 4-7 p.m. on March 8 and from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. on March 9 in the Strip View Pavilion inside the Thomas and Mack Center. Admission to the show matches is free for ticketholders to the MW Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships. The show matches are a great way for fans to learn more about esports.
The MW eSports Showdown Main Event will kick off at 9 a.m. on March 10 inside Cox Pavilion. Tickets are $10 (plus UNLV Tickets handling fees), on sale now at the Thomas and Mack Center box office in Las Vegas or online.
The Show Matches and Main Event will also be broadcast live via the Mountain West eSports Twitch page at https://www.twitch.tv/mountainwestconf. Twitch is a live-streaming video platform owned by Twitch Interactive, a subsidiary of Amazon.com. The site focuses primarily on video game live-streaming, including broadcasts of esports competitions. Twitch has more than 100 million monthly unique users and 2.2 million monthly broadcasters. Follow Boise State esports at eSports and Broncos Twitch.
Esports is enjoying explosive growth in popularity around the world — particularly among younger demographic groups – and research suggests as many as 150 million enthusiasts around the globe regularly participate in esports, in which championship events attract sellout crowds to large sporting arenas in the United States and beyond, and industry experts predict the esports economy will grow to more than $650 million in 2018.
Boise State and UNLV were selected to participate in the inaugural MW eSports Showdown based upon the current organization and development of their esports programs. Boise State University esports is the first varsity competitive gaming team sponsored by a Mountain West institution. The program hosts nearly 60 varsity student e-athletes competing in five game titles. An additional 240 students compete for the school at the club level in other game titles. Boise State is building the largest gaming facility in college esports with a 100-seat Battleground training center, broadcast facility, and spectator arena for live weekly matches.
UNLV’s collegiate esports organization—8-Bit—represents the Rebels at national esports competitions. Founded in 2012, the club-level team competes in five game titles and is an officially recognized organization in the Riot Games Collegiate Program and a partner of the TeSPA network. 8-Bit is one of the largest student organizations on campus, with former members going on to compete professionally. In addition to its competitive esports team, UNLV has one of the nation’s only academic programs for students combining the art, science and business of esports. UNLV is a founding member of the Nevada Esports Alliance, further positioning the state as a global esports hub and UNLV as a research leader.
The UNLV eSports program is led by Robert Rippee, Director of the Hospitality Lab and eSports Lab at the International Gaming Institute. Follow UNLV eSports at https://www.twitch.tv/8bitunlv .