ALBANY, NY – The ECAC eSports Expo successfully launched the ECAC eSports Initiative on Thursday, March 1 at the Albany Capital Center as the Marist College Red Foxes captured the inaugural ECAC eSports Invitational with a victory over the Siena College Saints in the championship match.
The Expo started with a series of engaging panels on a wide array of collegiate eSports topics. The panels featured CEOs, Athletic Directors, and eSports Consultants as they discussed why schools should start eSports programs, how to go about building programs, and what the future of collegiate eSports holds for ECAC member schools.
Students, school administrators, and gaming company executives from around the Northeast came to engage with the panelists on a range of topics. The panelists offered perspectives on how to initiate programs on campus, student engagement and club formation, gaming platforms and startup budgets and space needs. They also discussed cultural issues that surround eSports and how to make eSports programs more well-rounded for the student athletes. The student enrollment benefits to ECAC member schools that sponsor eSports programs was a key takeaway form the panels. The experienced panelists were able to provide relevant background and detailed responses that allowed all those in attendance an opportunity to start discussions on their campuses about the benefits of this rapidly expanding student activity.
Following the panel discussions, the ECAC Invitational kicked off with the Siena College Saints taking on the Canisius College Golden Griffins in the opening match. The match went back and forth with momentum shifting throughout the game, but in the end the Saints were victorious. In the second match, the Marist College Red Foxes took on the SUNY Canton Kangaroos. Marist, with a clever opening gambit, was able to secure a lead that Canton was unable to overcome despite several outplays. The consolation match featured the tournaments longest match. Canisius College squared off against SUNY Canton. Canisius had another strong start and was even able to capture an early baron, but SUNY refused to give up. They clawed their way back gaining small advantages fight after fight until they were able to pull ahead and close out the game for the W. Finally, Siena College and Marist College met on the rift. The game was uneventful for the beginning stanza, but Marist slowly gained separation from Siena through clean lane management and strong team rotation. In the end, Marist was able to snowball that separation into a quick victory.
The panels and competitions were streamed live on esports.ecacnetwork.com, twitch.tv, and YouTube where eSports fans from around the country watched the activities.
Overall, the event was a massive success. The ECAC also announced its intent to begin running eSports leagues and tournaments this spring in both FIFA ‘18 and League of Legends. ECAC President Dan Coonan stated that “This is only beginning,” and described his vision that the ECAC expand into more games, host more leagues and championships, and meet the needs of the ECAC members and schools from around the country.
The event was hosted by the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) as part of its MAAC 2018 Basketball Championships and Fan Fest. The MAAC is finalizing plans to make it an annual part of the men’s and women’s basketball championships. “The MAAC Committee on Athletic Administration voted after the conclusion of the expo to finalize plans for an expanded eSportstournament at its 2019 MAAC Fan Fest that will include all 11-member schools,” noted MAAC Commissioner Richard Ensor. “The initial assessment of ECAC Expo is that the ECAC provide its member conferences a valuable service by operating and broadcasting such tournaments. We see such ECAC competitions as complementing the MAAC’s basketball championships, with sports fans attending both events.”
“We are so thrilled with the results of the entire ECAC/MAAC eSports Expo – both the panel discussions and the invitational tournament. It had the look and feel you would expect of a big-time eSports competition, and was a great way for the ECAC to establish a solid foothold in this emerging space.” Dan Coonan stated about the event. “This event will serve as a launching pad for the unveiling of our full program of leagues and championships next year, as our list of interested schools both in the northeast and beyond grows. We appreciate the partnership with the MAAC for this inaugural event.”
“For a first-time event, the expo competitors played at a higher level than anyone could have hoped for,” Kiernan Ensor, MAAC eSports consultant and event organizer, said. “The panelists were terrific, the matches were exciting, and best of all was seeing student athletes proudly representing their schools. Attendees received a lot of value and information from attending.”
“Canisius College and our eSports team were thrilled to be part of this terrific event”, said Canisius Director of Athletics Bill Maher. “We are encouraged by the energy around the event and look to continue the momentum and to further understand how our involvement in eSports can enhance the college experience for our students”
“eSports is growing exponentially among colleges and universities across the country and I applaud the MAAC and ECAC for engaging in a partnership to capitalize on this opportunity,” Marist Director of Athletics Tim Murray said. “I’m extremely proud of the Marist students who captured the championship, and we look forward to having these students represent the College in future competitions.”
ABOUT THE ECAC
Established in 1938, the ECAC is the nation’s largest Conference, ranging in location from Maine to Georgia, and westerly to Missouri. The ECAC hosts numerous championships in men’s and women’s sports across Divisions I, II and III, offering opportunities for thousands of student-athletes. For more information, visit ecacsports.com.
ABOUT THE METRO ATLANTIC ATHLETIC CONFERENCE
With 11 institutions strongly bound by the sound principles of quality and integrity in academics and excellence in athletics, the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) is in its 37th year of competition during the 2017-18 academic year. Current Conference members include: Canisius College, Fairfield University, Iona College, Manhattan College, Marist College, Monmouth University, Niagara University, Quinnipiac University, Rider University, Saint Peter’s University, and Siena College.
ABOUT THE ECAC NETWORK
ECAC Network is an over-the-top streaming platform that gives students, athletes, fans, families and alumni the best of the Eastern College Athletic Conference’s sports action, campus content and sports and lifestyle entertainment. Best-in-class streaming technology accessed from any device ensures an uninterrupted viewing experience for live and on-demand content, plus active community engagement. The network is free to all users in this inaugural year.
For further information on the expo, organizing events or competitions, or help starting a school program contact Kiernan Ensor at 609-276-2254