Fiesta Bowl Overwatch® Collegiate National Championship
Tempe, AZ 85287
Doors open at 2:00 p.m., matches begin at 3:00 p.m.
Congratulations to UC Berkley for winning the first-ever Fiesta Bowl Overwatch Collegiate Championship! Learn more about the event below and how the Fiesta Bowl got involved:
Can you tell us about who the Fiesta Bowl is as an organization and how this foray into esports came to be?
Mike Nealy: We have a great tradition. We’re pushing 50 years of putting on a top-notch collegiate bowl game, and at the elite level. So we’re at the top of the top, the new year six, you know, and we also do another game, but what a lot of people don’t know is that and part of what we look at ourselves as an event company, really. We put on a major football event, two of them, every year. In addition to that locally, which a lot of people nationally don’t know, we do other events throughout the year. Why do these other events? We have the resources. We have the know how. We’re good at putting on events, and events that we do and what we are trying to do is number one: economic impact for the Valley.
Bringing people into town to go to the football games, and go to the events that we have, and ultimately as a non-profit, which again most people don’t fully understand that we are a non-profit, our goal is to give back to the community. We give back in form of grants to other non-profits locally here to the tune of $2,500,000 this year. We’re hoping that that can grow, and one of the ways it can grow is if we have successful events that allow us to make more money to give back more. So how this came up was, unless you were sleeping, you know, you were starting to hear about esports more and more. It’s been around for quite a while, but I think it is becoming mainstream more and more.
It came to our attention of course and we’re thinking, “okay what is this, first of all.” And that quickly came into, “hey this is something that’s huge, it’s growing.” Certainly in a collegiate level, we got exposed to it, and we play in the collegiate space. We got connected with some people that knew a little bit more about it, at Tespa and Blizzard. We knew we were new at this, and found out pretty quickly that the Overwatch League was one of the premiere leagues. Tespa and Blizzard said “by the way, we’re finishing up our season, and there’s going to be four teams leftover in December. And, how about a championship game.” We do Championship games.
We were the first bowl to do a National Championship.
I didn’t know that, wow.
You mentioned yesterday all of this had to happen in six weeks, which is an amazing accomplishment.
We weren’t able to put a lot of time into this in December. We did the two bowl games, a huge parade, and a whole bunch of events. We also had an event a week ago. We had our STEM based aerospace challenge, which is an event that had finals last weekend, and so we were busy even doing that. Pulling this off in February took some work.
You guys did a wonderful job putting this together. It has been fantastic.
It’s neat to hear people that have been to a couple of these events and seeing that “hey, this looks first class. This looks like this is serious.” It doesn’t necessarily compare to the college football Fiesta Bowl, but these are the people that know how to do those things, and do them right, and that’s the fingerprint that’s on this event.
So is the organization looking towards doing this again in the future? Is there something solidified for next year? Or is it just this year, right now?
We are certainly looking at doing this long term. With the interest in esports and how it’s growing, it’s looking favorable to go forward. I mean for both Tespa and us, this was new, so we thought, let’s do this year and see how it goes. I’d like to think they are having a good experience from their side, as well. I think this is the start of a long term relationship.
Can you speak to anything Blizzard specific you think they’ve done really well in their partnership with the Fiesta Bowl?
What they brought for this, the production side, of what they brought here. I mean that’s their announcers, that’s their set. They know how to produce this particular game. We produce a football game, they know how to produce this. I’m very impressed with all their crew, and enjoy working with them. These guys are very high energy, motivated, smart guys that love what they’re doing and it shows.
It’s been easy to work with them. Without them, this couldn’t have been pulled off in such short amount of time, and in the quality that it is. That speaks strongly to their organization. This is new, and it’s blowing up. They seem to be pretty confident in what they’re doing. It’s evident they’re not just flying by the seat of their pants, and we hope to be a good partner with them in the long term.
It’s awesome that you guys have been the pioneers to come in and put your stamp on it and make this the premiere event for the national championship. To put the Fiesta Bowl name on there and that pedigree, it legitimizes what these college kids are doing, how big this game is, and how big the sport is.
The Fiesta Bowl is a very important, strong brand, and we don’t take that lightly. We didn’t just want to hop into something and throw our name on some event we didn’t know about. It was clear that Tespa and Blizzard knew what they were doing. They were serious about what we were doing, and we felt pretty comfortable early on that this was going to be a good situation to connect with them.