First-ever esports partnership between a college football bowl organization and game publisher brings national championship event to Arizona in February
SCOTTSDALE, AZ & IRVINE, CA – A historic new partnership between the Fiesta Bowl organization and Blizzard Entertainment, through its Tespa collegiate esports division, will shine a spotlight on high-level college competition in Blizzard’s popular team-based shooter Overwatch® with the introduction of the Fiesta Bowl Overwatch Collegiate National Championship.
The first-of-its-kind esports partnership between a college football bowl organization and a game publisher brings the top four collegiate Overwatch teams to Arizona for the semifinals and championship match of this year’s Tespa Overwatch Collegiate Series. With seven national championship games in its 47-year history, the Fiesta Bowl is a pillar of college football and looking to start a new tradition with the first Fiesta Bowl Overwatch Collegiate National Championship.
“With the explosive growth of esports, we identified this opportunity to broaden our footprint and get involved right at our sweet spot – intercollegiate competition. Partnering with Blizzard Entertainment once again puts us at the top of the college game, in a slightly different arena,” said Mike Nealy, Fiesta Bowl Executive Director. “Now is a perfect time to become a part of a new frontier for college gaming. These are highly-talented and dedicated students showcasing their skills.”
Battling through a season-long collegiate competition featuring 318 schools, four teams have advanced to the 2017-18 Fiesta Bowl Overwatch Collegiate National Championship. The defending champions, University of California, Berkeley; last year’s runner-up, University of Toronto; University of California, Irvine; and University of California, San Diego will compete for the championship and the six scholarships (one for each player) going to the winning team.
“The passion and tradition of college football are a perfect match to the drama and excitement of Overwatch collegiate esports,” said Mike Morhaime, CEO and cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment. “We’re excited to see some of the top college Overwatch players competing for scholarships and glory as part of the Fiesta Bowl festivities.”
The Fiesta Bowl Overwatch Collegiate National Championship will be held on Saturday, February 17, on the campus of Arizona State University. It will be preceded by an exhibition match between ASU and the University of Arizona.
Since its inception in 1971, the Fiesta Bowl has been a trend-setter in college sports. It was the first organization to create a national championship football game and the first bowl game to secure a title sponsor, which is now commonplace. When the BCS National Championship was formed, the Fiesta Bowl hosted the initial championship.
This year’s college football games are December 26, with a Cactus Bowl match-up between Kansas State and UCLA, followed by the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl on December 30 when Penn State and University of Washington face each other.
The Fiesta Bowl organization is proud of its record level of charitable giving with more than $2.5 Million to Arizona nonprofit organizations, including nearly $750,000 to Arizona teachers through the Wishes for Teachers program.
Overwatch was created by globally acclaimed publisher Blizzard Entertainment, known for iconic franchises such as World of Warcraft®, Hearthstone®, StarCraft®, and Heroes of the Storm®, many of which have laid the foundations and helped push the boundaries of professional esports over the last 15 years. The team-based shooter was built from the ground up for online competition, with memorable characters and fast-paced action designed for the most engaging gameplay and spectator experiences. Overwatch was named Game of the Year at The Game Awards, D.I.C.E. Awards, and Game Developers Choice Awards.
About the Fiesta Bowl
The Fiesta Bowl is a world-class community organization that executes innovative experiences, drives economic growth and champions charitable causes, inspiring pride in all Arizonans. As a nonprofit organization, it believes in the importance of community outreach and service. Through charitable giving, the organization strives to enhance Arizona nonprofit organizations that contribute to the success of communities through youth, sports and education. Since 1971, the Fiesta Bowl has worked to increase its footprint across the state and work to benefit Arizonans year-round, during and outside of bowl season.
About Blizzard Entertainment, Inc.
Best known for blockbuster hits including World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, Overwatch, the Warcraft, StarCraft, and Diablo® franchises, and the multi-franchise Heroes of the Storm, Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. (www.blizzard.com), a division of Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ: ATVI), is a premier developer and publisher of entertainment software renowned for creating some of the industry’s most critically acclaimed games. Blizzard Entertainment’s track record includes twenty-one #1 games* and multiple Game of the Year awards. The company’s online-gaming service is one of the largest in the world, with millions of active players.
*Sales and/or downloads. Based on internal company records and reports from key distribution partners.
Tespa is the premier college gaming network in North America, dedicated to creating a home for gamers on every campus. Recognized as the leader in college esports, Tespa cultivates student communities that host epic gaming events on campuses in the United States and Canada, and plans to distribute more than $1 million in scholarship prizing in 2017-2018 through intercollegiate leagues. Tespa has had more than 5000 teams from more than 1200 universities compete in its college tournaments and has empowered student leaders to become entrepreneurs in the gaming industry.