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College roundup: Trio of collegiate tournaments announced

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Mark Deppe discusses the growth of varsity esports (4:36)

UC Irvine's program director talks about how the Anteaters got their start as a varsity program and how school support benefits both players and the university. (4:36)

Four college tournament announcements came out this week with a combined prize pool of $150,000 between them.

The Collegiate StarLeague, American Video Game League and Columbia College all put out information on tournament offerings for April, with CSL and AVGL playing in Southern California and the Cougars putting on their Midwest Campus Clash on April 7 in Columbia, Missouri, at Columbia College's Southwell Arena.

"We had great success with last year's event, and the energy in the arena was electric," Columbia College president Scott Dalrymple said in a statement. "We have the opportunity to build on that excitement and welcome gamers of every level to our campus for what we believe is the premier gaming event in the Midwest."

The Midwest Campus Clash is in its second year and will bring four of the best-known collegiate League of Legends programs together with a prize pool of $25,000. Last year's winner was Robert Morris University, which will return to try and defend its title.

Three other varsity esports programs -- Columbia College, Maryville University and Miami (Ohio), will take part, as will Kansas, Kansas State and Missouri. The tournament, like Beachcon and the CSL event, will feature casual play as well as a 16-team Rocket League tournament.

In the following few weeks, two of the largest college esports leagues will bring their players to the West Coast. AVGL's event is in its inaugural year at Beachcon in Long Beach, California, from April 14-15 at the Thunder Esports Center; it will feature the league's Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Dota 2 finals, with a $20,000 prize pool on the line between the two games.

The CSL's slate will round out the month. Its tournaments and showcases, highlighted by its CS:GO, Dota 2 and League of Legends Junior Varsity finals, includes eight games and will take place April 27-29 in Huntington Beach, California, at the Ultimate Media Ventures esports arena.

"This year's event will be our biggest to date, with more teams, more competitors, more games and more reasons to attend," CSL general manager Wim Stocks said in a statement. "The event will also showcase a speaker series, meet and greet and a collegiate gaming festival with music, food and entertainment."

All of this leads up to a June that includes collegiate events at Dreamhack Austin from June 1-2 and the College League of Legends finals from June 7-10 in Los Angeles at the North American League Championship series arena.

Big East puts toe in water with esports invitational

The Big East conference also announced an esports initiative this week in conjunction with ESL.

Participants will compete in either League of Legends, Rocket League or both, according to a joint statement from the Big East and ESL, and the semifinals and finals will be broadcast on Twitch from April 14-15.

More intriguing than the events, however, is the experimental component of the event. According to the statement, part of the pilot program's mission is to help conference members evaluate the gaming communities they have on-campus, which could make the invitational a case study in whether the schools should invest more resources in esports.

"The Big East has a strong, deep sports culture," conference commissioner Val Ackerman said in a statement, "and the integration of esports on our campuses will only fuel that passion."

The Big East Conference and esports tournament organizer ESL will host the Big East Invitational starting March 19. The event goes through April 14-15, when a broadcasted finals will take place. Participating games include League of Legends and Rocket League, and some of the interested schools are Butler, Creighton, DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, St. John's, Seton Hall, Villanova and Xavier.

Jacob Wolf, ESPN Staff Writer39d ago

All but East region go chalk in College League of Legends quarterfinals

In-stage rivals and Columbia College and Maryville University appear to be on a crash course in the College League of Legends playoffs.

With a 3-0 win over Cincinnati, the top-seeded Cougars advanced to the semifinals of the region, where they will face fourth-seeded Lourdes University in a best-of-five. Maryville, meanwhile, took a 3-1 win over another varsity team in Miami (Ohio) and will face University of Manitoba for a shot at the regional finals.

In the West region, UC Irvine routed UC Santa Barbara 3-0 to set up another in-state showdown between the Anteaters and UC San Diego. The Tritons have a chance to avenge their Overwatch team's semifinal loss to UCI in the Fiesta Bowl Overwatch Collegiate National Championship a month ago. The winner of that matchup will face the winner of Simon Fraser University's series against University of British Columbia.

In the South, a field dominated by Texas teams continues to be so. University of Texas-Dallas goes up against its big brother, the Texas Longhorns, for a finals spot. On the other side of the bracket, Texas A&M will try to set up an all-Texas final by beating George Mason.

The East was the only region that didn't go chalk in the regional round of eight. Fifth-seeded New York University beat University of Toronto in a 3-2 upset, and No. 6 University of Waterloo took down No. 3 Ryerson University 3-1. Those two teams will try to disturb the bracket some more in the semifinal, with NYU facing top-seeded Western University and Waterloo up against the University of Ottawa.

Best-of-three play in the Peach Belt Conference tournament begins Saturday. The Big Ten tournament will start April 6.

Iowa junior college adds esports

Hawkeye Community College became the first National Junior College Athletic Association member to take advantage of the NCJAA's new partnership with the National Association of College esports.

The RedTails announced their program Monday and plan to sponsor Overwatch, Heroes of the Storm, Dota 2 and League of Legends, according to a release. The Waterloo, Iowa, institution plans to start competing in Fall 2018.