Penn State Esports Club Joins Big Ten, Gets Scholarship Money
After disappointment last year due to licensing issues, the Penn State Esports Club is competing in the Big Ten League of Legends conference this year and eligible for scholarships from the conference partner, Riot Games.
Riot Games isn’t just a partner — the company created League of Legends (LOL), an online PC game. Blending multiple game styles, it pits two teams against each other with a variety of game modes and battlegrounds. Riot Games and the Big Ten Network recently announced a two-year partnership extension to hold the second and third BTN League of Legends seasons.
Penn State didn’t let the club compete last year “for various reasons, including the use of [the Penn State logos],” Athletics’ Assistant Director for Strategic Communications Jeff Nelson said at the time.
Penn State and Nebraska both joined the conference this year, bringing every Big Ten school into the league. Inclusion in the conference includes a $35,000 scholarship for each team from Riot Games. The scholarships –totaling $490,000 across the Big Ten — are split evenly between the team’s rosters.
The Big Ten League of Legends season runs January 15 through March 4. Playoffs include the top eight teams and take place between March 30 and April 2. The winner of the conference playoffs will have a chance to move on to the College Championship.
Esports clubs are operating at hundreds of universities across the country now. The sport is even more popular internationally, where in 2016 ESPN reported the League of Legends Worlds prize totaled more than $5 million.
According to the BTN’s press release, the two partners are still determining the best way to allow fans to watch, but more than likely for Big Ten fans, it’ll be streamed on BTN2Go — the BTN’s mobile platform. Penn State has multiple teams competing. According to the league’s website, Penn State’s various teams will compete at noon PST Saturday, February 3.