eSports is returning to ESPN this April. "Heroes of the Dorm" will air live April 9 and 10 on ESPN 2. The tournament pits teams of college students in an epic tournament of Activision Blizzard's "Heroes of the Storm," a multiplayer online battle arena game that features characters from various titles in five-versus-five matches.
The grand prize is $75,000 in tuition for each member of the winning team. While it's unlikely to move the needle for ratings, it's another positive step for the burgeoning competitive gaming scene.
Registration for "Heroes of the Dorm" is currently open through February 18, with qualifying rounds beginning on February 20. The Round of 64 for the collegiate eSports tournament won't air on ESPN2, but will be broadcast live on ESPN3, Twitch and YouTube on March 19.
The Round of 32 (March 20), Round of 16 (March 26) and semifinals (March 27) will air on those platforms. The quarterfinals, dubbed the "Heroic Four" airs live April 9 on ESPN 2 with the Grand Finals airing the next day live on the same channel.
"Last year’s Heroes of the Dorm was an amazing experience for the students playing and everyone watching, and we’re excited to again offer college athletes an epic opportunity to team up and compete for scholarships in 2016," Mike Morhaime, CEO and co-founder of Blizzard Entertainment, said in a statement.
The prizes include a "Heroes of the Storm" Player Portrait for all participants in the "Heroes of the Dorm" tournament. Additional "Heroes of the Storm" skins can also be earned as players advance in the competition. The semifinalists will get a custom gaming PC with an average retail value of $1,193. The five players of the winning team will receive $25,000 in tuition for up to three years. The substitute will earn a one-year $25,000 scholarship.
The "Heroes of the Dorm" grand finals aired live on ESPN in April 2015, much to the confusion of some viewers. The Subway Series between the New York Yankees and the New York Mets was airing on ESPN while "Game of Thrones" was on HBO during "Heroes of the Dorm."
The tournament had an overnight rating of 0.1, which meant it lost to reruns of shows such as "River Monsters," but was the beginning of eSports being featured heavily by ESPN. Following "Heroes of the Dorm," ESPN The Magazine had an eSports issue while a new eSports vertical was launched in January 2016.
Prior to the April airing of "Heroes of the Dorm," eSports will be featured on ESPN during the "X Games: Aspen" broadcast. Highlights from the "Halo World Championship Tour" will be seen during "X Games: Aspen" segments.