Between new age athletes, college scholarships and tournaments, esports are on the rise as a new athletic form. As esports evolve, so do the competitions surrounding them. Like the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association), there are organizations focused on providing tournaments for collegiate-level gaming. RIT's esports team has been competing for a few years now and this season has made it far in one of the larger gaming competitions and is excited to announce that they are only a few wins away from making it to the finals. 

In the realm of college esports, Tespa and Blizzard are two well known gaming entities. With over 230 recognized chapters, Tespa is the place to be for college-level gaming competitions. They are known as “the leader in collegiate esports on campus and on the competitive stage.” Not only do they connect clubs and players across the country, but they also organize tournaments like Heroes of the Dorm, bringing together the best of the best to compete for $500,000 in scholarships and prizes. Blizzard has produced more than its fair share of iconic competitive and casual video games such as Overwatch, World of Warcraft, the Diablo franchise and StarCraft.

Tespa and Blizzard have combined to create a tournament called Heroes of the Dorm centered around the game Heroes of the Storm, a Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA). Heroes of the Storm is a game where players choose a hero from one of the multiple classes like warrior, support, assassins and specialist. From there they must complete multiple objectives, ultimately leading to the final goal which is to destroy your opponent's core. RIT Esports club has had teams compete in Heroes of the Dorm and other tournaments since it was founded in 2016. 

"[The live tournament] should be the ultimate Heroes of the Dorm experience."

On Feb. 5, 2018, the Heroes of the Dorm season kicked off in search of which collegiate team would become the next Hero of the Dorm. 

Root for the Home Team

Andy Kukielka, a third year New Media Interactive Development major, is the manager of the Heroes of the Dorm team for the RIT Esports club.

"We're doing good this year. We're locked in for the round of 64. I think that we have potential to make a good run in this tournament," Kukielka said about this year's campaign.

Kukielka reflected back on a match won during the season.   

"The regular season games were split into two types of matches: regional and national. Our week two regional match against Waterloo was a good one," he said. "We knew beforehand it was one of the first matches live-streamed so we knew we had to make a strong impact and set the tone for the tournament. They were one of the better teams going into the tournament so it felt great to beat them and prove ourselves." 

RIT has had a good run this season and are excited to have qualified for the higher level of competition. Logan Fishel, the associate product manager of College Esports for Tespa, oversees these tournaments.

“RIT has a really good team, going 7-3 over the course of the season, beating out over 300 hundred other teams at universities across America, and earning a number 20 seed, qualifying for the round of 64,” he explained. "[They are] four wins away from reaching the Live Finals — cheer on your RIT Tigers — where the round of 64 play to start on the 28th of March."

The live finals will be broadcast from Blizzard Studios in Burbank, California on May 12, 2018. 

Cassie Reynoso, a public relations coordinator for Blizzard, talked about other tournaments — like the Collegiate Championship Fiesta Bowl hosted by Tespa at Arizona State University (ASU) — as well as last year's tournament held for Overwatch, another popular Blizzard title.

"A lot of people attended even though they didn't know what was going on. They rooted for ASU especially when they went against AU (Arizona). They were unified by school pride," said Reynoso. 

Like when RIT's hockey team makes the playoffs, the hype surrounding this tournament isn't for naught. To have made it to this round of the tournament is an accomplishment to be proud of. Tickets for the event are available here.

“[The live tournament] should be the ultimate Heroes of the Dorm experience. The Blizzard Arena will feature an on-site gear store and maybe a few other surprises for college esports fans in attendance,” Reynoso said.

An Event for the Fans

"We see that having the broader community helps boost the performance of the players."

Heroes of the Dorm isn’t just for esports clubs. Like with all sports, there are fans cheering along the sidelines. The tournament also has a bracket challenge which pays out cash prizes to those fans. Reynoso  discussed the official rules of the bracket challenge. 

  1. The bracket challenge will award $10,000 for the entry that predicts the most winners.
  2. The perfect bracket entry winner will receive 1 million dollars for correctly picking all 63 matches
  3. All participants in the Bracket Challenge will receive a Heroes of the Storm in-game spray from Tespa for submitting.
  4. The top 500 best performing entries will receive a special Heroes of the Dorm in-game mount customized to match the colors of the 2018 National Champions

"A winning strategy to help our team would be to form viewing parties for the bracket release and to watch RIT in tournament play. We see that having the broader community helps boost the performance of the players." Fishel said. 

"The brackets are set to be released at the Heroes of the Dorm announcement" Reynoso mentioned. The announcement is scheduled to occur on March 21, 2018. 

Enough Talk, Let’s Battle

March is a prime time for college competition and showing school spirit. Root for your RIT Tigers as they take on the nation's best to become the next Hero of the Dorm. You can even win prize money by taking part in the bracket challenge. If you're up for something new, give the game a try. In the meantime, fill out your bracket and tune in to see if RIT will be the next Hero of the Dorm.