Big Ten Network, Riot Games Extend College League of Legends Partnership Through 2019
BTN and Riot Games, the creator of League of Legends, announced a new two-year partnership to launch the second and third BTN League of Legends seasons in 2018 and 2019. Teams from all 14 Big Ten Conference schools will be participating in the competition, which features the most played PC video game in the world, and begins on January 15.
The inaugural season debuted in January of 2017 and featured teams from 12 Big Ten schools facing off in best-of-three battles against division foes prior to the championship match, in which Maryland defeated Illinois for the BTN League of Legends title. Seasons two and three will be structured in the same manner, with teams competing in the BTN East and West divisions. The top eight teams will make the BTN League of Legends playoffs. The BTN champion and runner-up will each earn berths in the play-in tournament and compete for a spot in the League of Legends College Championship. The 2018 BTN season concludes with an online 8-team tournament being held from March 30 – April 2 to determine the champion. BTN will assume all production responsibility for the tournament matches and is currently in discussion with several platforms to best determine online streaming options.
“After spending the past two years learning, participating and beginning to understand the esports landscape, we are now at a point where we can take an exciting step forward,” said Erin Harvego, BTN’s Vice President of Marketing. “From our first test event in April of 2016 until now, Riot Games has been a terrific partner and has helped BTN emerge as the leader in collegiate esports productions.”
Three Big Ten teams are ranked in Riot’s preseason seedings – No. 5 Illinois, No. 6 Rutgers and No. 15 Ohio State. Riot is funding scholarships for all 14 schools, with each team receiving $35,000 to be evenly distributed among its roster.
“This two-year deal is a natural evolution of our efforts in 2017 and shows BTN and the Big Ten member schools’ commitment to support the passionate communities of League of Legends players on all 14 Big Ten campuses,” said Michael Sherman, who leads Riot’s competitive college program. “Riot wants to make League of Legends a sport that lasts for generations, something the Big Ten has accomplished in several sports already. The BTN League of Legends competition assures the Big Ten’s best gamers have the opportunity to celebrate the traditions and rivalries of the Big Ten on their own field.”
League of Legends is a fast-paced, team-oriented (5-v-5) online game of skill and strategy with more than 100 million monthly active players worldwide. The game has become especially popular on college campuses where players have been competing in a College League of Legends competition since 2014. This season is the biggest yet, featuring more than 300 university teams, including more than 30 programs that offer scholarships, playing across the U.S. and Canada.