LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Bellarmine University is hosting its first Esports Open March 17, 18 and 19, and the public is invited to see how area high schoolers get their game on. The tournament will feature 170 video gamers representing 15 high schools with teams competing in “League of Legends,” “Rocket League” and “Super Smash.”
The tournament, the first of its kind in Kentucky, will bring the kind of energy and enthusiasm participants and fans enjoy at professional Esports competitions to the local high school level.
“Bellarmine is really positioning itself to be a leader in the Esports space,” said Ben Sobcyzk, an instructor of sports administration and coach of Bellarmine’s Esports team.
This fall, Bellarmine unveiled a minor in Esports, the only such academic credential in the commonwealth. The minor offers classes such as Introduction to Esports, Introduction to Sports Administration, Business of Esports and Facility and Event Management.
“The term ‘Esports’ is new to many people, but it has quietly become one of the fastest-growing industries in the world,” Sobcyzk said. “The prize pools for several events now rivals mainstream events like The Masters in golf, and the global viewership for a couple of Esports events is bigger than the Super Bowl. Esports has the attention of many companies, gaining major sponsorships in advertising. The money videogames make is more than the music and movie industry combined. Esports is just getting started.”
Esports is an official sport of the Kentucky High School Athletic Association.
Bellarmine’s Esports team has about 20 students who’ve worked hard to ensure this weekend’s tournament is a success. There will be gaming stations set up in Frazier Hall, along with concessions and swag bags.
“We’re rolling out the red carpet for players and fans alike,” Sobcyzk said. “I’ve been to some professional tournaments and those events are spectacles. They’re really cool. They have a lot of energy, fans, signs and cheering, and I really wanted to bring that to the high school scene as much as I possibly could.”
Sobcyzk said he hopes the tournament grows into a highly anticipated annual event. It will be in Bellarmine’s Frazier Hall 6-8 p.m. Friday, March 17, and 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday, March 18. The championships will be Sunday, March 19: 1 p.m. League of Legends, 3 p.m. Rocket League and 4:30 p.m. Super Smash. Awards will follow at 5:30 p.m.
The public is invited. Tickets may be purchased at the door. They are $15 for a weekend pass, $7 per day and free for Bellarmine faculty, staff and students.
Bellarmine is an inclusive independent Catholic university with more than 60 majors and an enrollment of nearly 3,500.