Disney embraces esports with ESL television shows

Esports continues to establish new horizons, as ESL yesterday announced a new partnership with US entertainment behemoth Disney.

Two original ESL television series are set to air on Disney’s new D|XP, a daily summer programming blog dedicated to the world of gaming on Disney XD. This will represent a first for ESL, who had previously never had their content broadcasted on linear TV in the US.

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The two will, understandably, not be featuring content around the very biggest games in esports. The most prominent titles in the MOBA genre are relatively complicated, which creates a significant barrier for entry, and first person shooters are perhaps more violent than Disney’s family-friendly ethos will allow. Instead, Disney’s foray into competitive gaming will focus on the following:

A six-episode series which forms the bulk of ESL Brawlers, which looks to crown a champion from ‘some of the most skilled’ players of Capcom’s Street Fighter V. Challengers will grind through an arduous ‘first to 10’ match for a chance a the throne, while the reigning winner must defend their title from new challengers each week.

An additional seventh episode will feature a special competition of Super Evil Megacorp’s Vainglory, the mobile MOBA which continues to go from strength to strength. It will bring together community influencers with professional Vainglory players for an exciting showmatch.

The second show offers a platform to the oft-secluded world of speedrunning. Bringing some of the best talent in the field to ‘jump, fly, and wrap through favorite titles’, ESL Speedrunners will provide another seven episode series, tracking the professionals as they chase elusive world records.

ESL Brawlers will premiere this Thursday the 20th of July, with ESL Speedrunners following some time in August. The shows mark Disney’s second involvement with esports in the last week, after aXiomatic, the company with a majority stake in Team Liquid, was announced to be one of the eleven companies involved with this year’s Disney Accelerator project. The Accelerator will provide a connection to Disney’s ‘creativity, imagination, and expertise’ through ‘unprecedented access to Disney’s leadership team, mentorship, and support’.

Esports Insider says: For Disney to embrace esports in this manner sets another marker in the road for the industry’s growth, and will undoubtedly help to bring new fans into the scene. For ESL and everyone involved with the shows, this new platform represents a great opportunity to grow and diversify existing audiences.