BGSU to join new esports conference

Students will be able to compete against other MAC schools in Esports Collegiate Conference

esports logoBy Bob Cunningham ’18

Bowling Green State University will compete in the Esports Collegiate Conference (ESC), the newly created esports venture by the Mid-American Conference (MAC), that will debut in the 2020-21 school year.

The MAC unveiled the independent esports conference June 10 in order to facilitate and foster high-quality gaming competition among collegiate esports teams. Esports Collegiate, which will operate separately from the MAC, will provide structure, scheduling and championship opportunities for its members.

In addition to BGSU, the founding member schools are the University of Akron, Ball State University, the University of Buffalo, Central Michigan University, Eastern Michigan University, Kent State University, Miami University, Northern Illinois University, Ohio University, the University of Toledo and Western Michigan University.

ESC will feature fall and spring seasons, competing in game titles such as “Overwatch” and “League of Legends.” An Esports Collegiate champion will be crowned in each game title, with the champion earning an automatic bid to the national postseason tournament.

Spring season competition will be in “Overwatch” and “League of Legends,” with possible game titles such as “Rocket League,” “Fortnite,” “Super Smash Bros.,” “Madden NFL” or “FIFA” competing in the fall.

esports classroom 

“The creation of Esports Collegiate represents the foresight of our presidents to establish a standalone, competitive framework for collegiate esports competitors and enthusiasts,” said Dr. Jon Steinbrecher, MAC commissioner. “I look forward to this organization maturing and growing, facilitating excellent competitive opportunities, fostering teamwork and providing even more reasons to attend an Esports Collegiate member institution.”

“At Bowling Green State University, we are a community that provides countless opportunities for our students to belong and stand out,” BGSU President Rodney K. Rogers said. “Esports and virtual games play a large role in our students’ entertainment, and also their activity to engage and learn from one another. Esports is not just a generational trend, but a global community. We are excited to compete in the MAC as a member of Esports Collegiate.”

Brian Heilmeier, associate dean of students at BGSU, and Ben Hammond, desktop support supervisor for ITS, will oversee the Falcons’ esports team. Heilmeier will handle financing and policy, while Hammond will manage the team’s day-to-day operations.

“We’ve had an esports club at BGSU, so we worked with those students to see what would make sense for Bowling Green and then collaborated on putting a lab together in Offenhauer Towers so they can be competitive against other MAC schools,” Heilmeier said.

The esports lab was ready to be used starting in late February and “we were really excited to be able to start using it, but then everything got pushed back because of COVID-19, so we haven’t gotten the full usage of it yet,” he said. “So, we’re looking forward to getting back on campus and letting the students use it.

“The nice part is, the way that the club has set it up is that anybody who is a member of the esports club on Bowling Green’s camps has access to the lab. They’re able to go in and use these really high-quality machines. Then our ESC team will reserve the lab when they have practice or a match against another team.”

Hammond said that there are well over 100 members in the club.

“A lot of the teams have students who are the coaches and we encourage that so the students get leadership experience,” he said.

Esports is a huge, international phenomenon, so that’s definitely one of the draws for Bowling Green,” Heilmeier said.” It’s something that really brings everyone together, so it’s really a cool thing to have for our campus. The gaming world really has a strong community, so for the University to recognize that and support it, I think goes a long way to show what kind of leadership we have. We want to support our students in whatever endeavors they pursue.”