In an attempt to garner more enthusiasm and support for college gaming, Overwatch and Torque Esports have collaborated to create a new collegiate tournament called the Collegiate Clash, and it comes with a significant prize for the champion.
The tournament involves eight teams playing against each other over the course of eight weeks. Hosted by UMG Media Ltd., the Collegiate Clash will take place in March, and at the end, the two final teams will face off to win the $40,000.
Esports athletes are not paid. As college football players are slowly beginning to reap the benefits of giving mind, body, and soul to their sport, it seems that that trend may slowly progress into esports as well. Varsity esports players are awarded scholarships for their participation on school teams, and that is the basket where Overwatch is attempting to place their eggs.
The prospect of a large sum of money would bring any players to the frontlines in an attempt to pocket even a fraction of that. However, the players are not receiving the prize money, or even a cut of it. Instead, it will go to the winning school as scholarship funds to recruit the next generation of Overwatch players.
According to USC Overwatch coach Nathan "Natter” Pitchaikani, the appearance of another competition is a good thing—no matter the outcome. “The more [competitions] there are the better the collegiate scene will be,” said Natter.
You may wonder if student players are willing to compete for nothing—when pro players are racking upwards of 3 million a tournament like in the Fortnight World Cup Finals—but that seems to be a non-issue. When asked about player opinion regarding their inability to pocket the prize money, Natter says, “I think the whole point is competing, and that's what people really care about. [The money] is an added bonus.”
Additionally, it seems that with the gradual increase in scholarships and prizes awarded to winning schools, that is an alluring deal for even pro players to turn to universities.
In a world where the average retirement age is 25, professional esports athletes must search for new career paths once their fast reflexes give way to age. While many seek careers in streaming, others further the education they halted to go pro. According to Natter, the allure of large scholarships to play for universities is a huge pull for players leaving their professional days behind.
When asked if USC will be performing in the Collegiate Clash, Natter is optimistic. “I see no reason as to why we wouldn’t do it,” says Natter. “Just a matter if schedule permits it.”