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ASU eSports team eliminated at Heroes of the Storm tournament

Members of UC Berkeley's eSports team take the stage after defeating ASU in the Heroes of the Dorm championship match on Sunday, April 26, 2015 in Los Angeles. The Golden Bears topped ASU's Dream Team 3-2 to win the first eSports event broadcast live on American TV.
Members of UC Berkeley's eSports team take the stage after defeating ASU in the Heroes of the Dorm championship match on Sunday, April 26, 2015 in Los Angeles. The Golden Bears topped ASU's Dream Team 3-2 to win the first eSports event broadcast live on American TV.

ASU eSports, formerly known as Dream Team, failed to level up in a North American BlizzCon qualifying event this past weekend. The team had hoped to qualify for the main Heroes of the Storm tournament held in late September in Las Vegas. 

Competitive video game tournaments, also known as eSports, gained major exposure earlier this year when ESPN2 aired the first ever live eSports competition on its network. ASU’s team, formerly known as the Dream Team, gained recognition by competing in a Heroes of the Dorm tournament, which it lost in the final seconds of the final match.

Stephen Martinez, a freshman business major at Palomar Community College in San Marcos, California, was the team’s manager for the North American qualifying tournament this past weekend and led the newly restructured Kappa Wolves to a top-eight finish.

“Kappa Wolves has actually been a name in competitive Heroes of the Storm for well before the Heroes of the Dorm event,” Martinez said in an email. “I like to refer to that team as Kappa Wolves 1.0 simply due to the changes to the roster we made after the event.”

The changes to the roster included moving more players to the team, such as ASU business communication sophomore Michael Udall onto the team, and using the tournament as a way to meet all of the teammates in person to prepare for battle in their quest to reach the world competition.

“We wound up being in the top eight for the North American qualifiers by taking out lesser known teams in the open qualifiers,” Martinez said. “The skill difference of teams is large and the difference between an S-tier team and A-tier team is Tempo Storms vs. C9. The same can be said for newer teams going up against veteran teams like Kappa Wolves, it can be rather demoralizing for newer teams to start up, as it is easy for older teams to just stomp their way to high placings.”

Tempo Storms were the favorites heading into the North American qualifier, but Martinez said the new Kappa Wolves team showed promise and was better than the team that competed in the Heroes of the Dorm.

“I would say that the roster that was fielded during the top eight of the August qualifiers was miles ahead of the team that competed at Heroes of the Dorm,” he said. “Thinking that the teams were better at Dorms compared to the actual teams that compete in high level Heroes of the Storm is backwards thinking. The rosters at Dorms had people that had never played the game before, while teams that compete in tournaments now do nothing but play this game full time.”

Electrical engineering junior Parham Emami competed for the Kappa Wolves and said the growth of eSports is on the rise as more and more people begin to get involved and compete.

“The growth of eSports is getting really big, which is really awesome,” Emami said. “It’s really exciting to that growth and I’m almost 100 percent sure it’s going to get a lot bigger than what it is now.”

The amount of prize money individuals and companies offer to winners of these world competitions shows the rapid growth in eSports.

“For example, Dota 2 competitions have prize money that comes from people donating a lot of money to it and this year the prize money was $18 million,” he said. “So it is definitely getting promoted by the companies putting money into it but it’s not just a wave of companies trying to exploit eSports teams.”

The team is looking toward the future and Udall said he thinks the outlook of eSports is pretty good.

“I would say with the amount of money going into eSports it is definitely on the rise and collegiately there are a lot more tournaments which is really cool,” he said.

As eSports continue to grow in popularity, universities are beginning to take notice.

Robert Morris University in Illinois and The University of Pikeville in Kentucky announced earlier this year that scholarships would be offered to students who play games such as League of Legends and Dota 2.

“If I could get a scholarship for playing video games that would be so cool," Udall said. "I know we got ASU a lot of publicity by being on ESPN."

Related Links:

ESPN made significant push for eSports and ASU was a major part of it

As e-sports profitability booms, don't forget the players


Reach the reporter at jshanco2@asu.edu or follow @joey_hancock on Twitter.

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