On Sunday, April 26, 2015, four teams competed head to head for college tuition in Blizzard Entertainment’s Heroes of the Dorm in Los Angeles, a competition where teams of five played Blizzard’s unreleased MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) “Heroes of the Storm.” The Heroes of the Dorm began March 28 of this year, in which over 6,000 players from 462 schools with a total of 889 teams participated. The four teams remaining were the Boston Eagles from Boston College, the Dream Team from Arizona State University, the Golden Bears from the University of California, Berkeley, and the Mad Banners from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
The Golden Bears from UC Berkeley won Heroes of the Dorm, and $25,000 tuition per year as an undergraduate or graduate, but the Golden Bears weren’t the only winners on Sunday. This was ESPN2’s first-ever airing of an esport’s tournament. The night became a symbol of victory for gamers; not just for Berkeley, or even Blizzard, but for the gaming industry and its players as a whole.
The seats were packed with cheering gamers, banging thundersticks together, and applauding when their favorite team was close to winning a match. The venue was just as celebratory and loud as any football game. That night, I felt like what I imagine people who love football and watch the Superbowl feel like. I knew the sport and I knew the teams. I knew who I want to win, and I rallied them on till I lost my voice. When they made bad plays, my voice was another yelling in the throng. I felt like a winner on Sunday, even though I wasn’t even playing the game.
This was a big night for ESPN as well. All night, my Twitter feed buzzed with #StormTheDorm, the hashtag for Heroes of the Dorm. #StormTheDorm even broke into Twitter’s most searched and talked about hashtags. Of course, there were some individuals who were very upset with ESPN for airing an esport tournament.
My friend retweeted this angry post.
— Nerdacide ? (@Nerdacide) April 27, 2015
Others saw that it was okay if the world didn’t understand esports.
We need to take two things away from eSports on #ESPN2 tonight:
1. A lot of people still don't get it.
2. That's okay.
— Kevin Hovdestad (@lackofrealism) April 27, 2015
SERIOUSLY LADIES AND GENTLEMAN TURN YOUR TVS TO ESPN 2. IN ALL MY YEARS I HAVE NEVER SEEN ANYTHING SO STUPID. It's a fricken video game
— Tommy Auge (@TheeSweetT) April 27, 2015
There are four grown men in suits broadcasting/analyzing a video game showdown on ESPN 2 right now. This can't be real.
— Kyle Zimmer (@kylezimmer11) April 27, 2015
And there were some who didn’t understand what the heck they were watching, but they were mesmerized.
I have no clue what's going on in this video game on ESPN 2, but. I can't stop watching
— Tyler Thompson (@tylerthompson23) April 27, 2015
The world may not be ready for Quidditch (though I’m still waiting for my Firebolt and Hogwarts letter), but there’s a ton of support for esports to become mainstream. For every negative tweet I saw, I found dozens of positive ones overflowing with happiness and acceptance.
— Andrew Dunne (@Kibbelz) April 27, 2015
If any of us can come away with anything, it’s a parent being proud of their kid for being good at video games.
The national broadcast of Heroes of the Dorm proved that esports is on the rise. Viewers of traditional sports may not understand it, but like any sport, they can learn to appreciate the dedication and determination that go into it. Gamers across the nation have been heard. We aren’t going anywhere.
Images courtesy of https://twitter.com/blizzheroes