UC Berkeley Golden Bears eSports team beat Arizona State on Sunday to win a collegiate video gaming championship tournament, the Heroes of the Dorm.
Members of the campus’s competitive video gaming eSports team won more than bragging rights. Blizzard Entertainment, a video game developer that sponsored the tournament, will pay the winners’ remaining college tuition, and graduating seniors will receive one year’s worth of tuition.
Blizzard Entertainment sponsored the collegiate gaming competition to promote its Heroes of the Storm game, coming out this June, that the competitors played at the tournament. The Heroes of the Dorm tournament was the first competitive collegiate gaming competition broadcast on ESPN2.
“It is beautiful outside, the sun is shining, but that will certainly not stop us from coming inside and talking about computer games all night,” said Nick Plott, one of the four eSports commentators at the tournament.
When UC Berkeley’s six-person team won the fifth and final game, the stage was inundated with confetti as one of the commentators yelled UC Berkeley’s victory.
Team captain and UC Berkeley senior Richard Xue was joined onstage by fellow team members UC Berkeley seniors Fan Yang, Kitae Kim, Yue Gu, junior Conan Liu and graduating junior Zachary Mirman, the acting president of eSports at Berkeley, a club on campus.
All of the members of UC Berkeley’s competing team are also members of the club. In February of 2013, eSports at Berkeley sent a team to a collegiate StarCraft tournament, where they won $40,000.
“We see collegiate eSports as the future of competitive gaming, so this is a step in that direction,” said Adam Rosen, eSports program manager at Blizzard, in an email. He said that Blizzard wanted to offer a prize that was not only “attractive, but will help students further their education.”
In describing the experience of winning, Kim said that while he had received awards before, winning this championship was “unimaginable.”
“To actually win the tournament on the stage, it was a lot of joy,” Kim said.
Kim, an international student from South Korea, did not tell his parents about his involvement in the tournament until after his team won. He said that even though his parents don’t like his video game playing, he wanted to surprise them with the news.
“Is it $300?” they asked, according to Kim. No, he told them — he had won $25,000.
“They were actually quite shocked,” he said.
But the joy, the stage and the award money weren’t the reasons why the team had played these games for so long. For Mirman, it boiled down to the community.
“Had I not known people, I probably would have given up earlier,” Mirman said. “Often the game itself isn’t enough to put years of your life into.”