Collegiate esports organisation Tespa open membership to all US students for 2017-18

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Tespa, who run the collegiate leagues for all of Blizzard’s esports along with Rocket League, have announced their plans for the 2017-18 season.

They’re starting an open membership program where students won’t need to depend on their colleges or universities having a Tespa chapter to be involved. They also plan to give away over a million bucks in scholarship money across six tournaments, broadcast live games six days a week, and give away in-game prizes. It’s going to be a big year for collegiate esports.

Incidentally, here’s what’s happening in the next Overwatch patch, 1.14. Y’know, just in case.

“It used to be that for students that wanted to participate in college esports you had to either compete in one of our leagues or you had to go to a university with a chapter,” Adam Ronsen, co-founder of Tespa, explains. “We’ve had over 1,200 universities compete in our leagues, but only 220 chapters. When we looked at that we saw that there was an opportunity to better serve the students on all campuses regardless of whether they went to a chapter or not. We are essentially opening membership so any student in the US or Canada can become a paying member of Tespa.”

Why would you want to? Well that’s where their second upgrade this year comes into play – in-game rewards. “There’s a concept of progression via participating in more local events and online competitions, unlocking cool rewards. A lot of those are in-game items, for example loot boxes in Heroes or card packs in Hearthstone but also some cool cosmetic items like card backs and portraits, that sort of stuff.”

Obviously, there’s also a significant growth angle for Tespa itself there, bringing in more members and money. However, at least for Ronsen, it’s about building something bigger than any one team or person.

“One of the things we believe really strongly in is creating these enriching communities on campus. When we look at the teams that perform best in our leagues, a lot of times they are the ones that come from the strongest communities. It’s not just about that team but it’s about that entire community that surrounds them. By opening membership we’re hoping to create this environment where gamers on campuses across North America discover there are a lot of other gamers on their campus and connect them.”

From there, he wants it to blow up. “Then they can begin hosting events, maybe they start a chapter, maybe they create better support infrastructures for their teams – we see open membership as really a catalyst towards building more of this long-term infrastructure on more campuses.”

Continuing from last year, they’ll be running Overwatch, Heroes of the Storm, Hearthstone, StarCraft II, World of Warcraft, and Rocket League, with more information available over on the official site. We’ll have much more about Tespa’s plans for the year through the week.