Collegiate esports tournament organiser CSL Esports has announced a multi-company partnership with the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE), esports infrastructure company Nerd Street and tournament software company Mainline.
The agreement will see the establishment of the NACE Starleague, a collegiate esports league claiming to become the largest in North America.
According to the release, the league will comprise more than 14,500 students from 600 colleges and universities.
Rob Johnson, CEO of CSL Esports, spoke on the announcement in a release: “This partnership marks a truly historic milestone for collegiate esports. Combining the efforts of four major players in collegiate esports is a transformative moment to create more access and opportunities for student-athletes and further elevate the sport in ways that were previously not possible.”
NACE Starleague operations are set to begin in fall 2021. The league will host localised invitationals and build esports practice facilities, all of which are expected to be in collaboration with participating schools. The league’s broadcasts, live event operations, and ticketing will be supported by Nerd Street.
Esports brand Skillshot Media and esports agency Waveform Entertainment will also support NACE Starleague’s regular-season broadcasts.
Michael Brooks, Executive Director of NACE, commented: “Our partnership will bring together the largest number of North American institutions and students that collegiate esports has ever seen. Working together with some of the biggest powerhouses in the collegiate esports industry enables us to bring the greatest value to students and administrators while maintaining the institutional voice for students and staff. That voice is critical for the long-term success of esports.”
Nerd Street Gamers will provide college teams with increased access to in-person play, training facilities and broadcast production. NACE Starleague participants, regardless of the level of play, will have complimentary access to Nerd Street’s gaming and esports facilities during their match time, as well as discounted access to Nerd Street Gamers’s collegiate tournaments.
The NACE Starleague will also help oversee match rules in compliance with game publishers, student-athlete verification, recruitment practices and varsity team development.
The league’s matches will be run on the Mainline tournament platform. Additionally, the software firm will provide digital infrastructure for team management, student authentication, sponsorship integrations and privacy and legal compliance.
“Mainline is extremely proud to support NACE Starleague with their efforts to continue to grow collegiate esports through this dynamic partnership,” said Chris Buckner, CEO of Mainline. “We are excited they have selected us as their preferred software in their efforts to drive continuity and scale for their esports events and competitions.”
The participating schools include some of the biggest names in collegiate athletics, such as Louisiana State University (LSU), University of Southern California (USC), Michigan State University (MSU), and University of Maryland (UMD).
Current NACE members competing in the league are Boise State University (BSU), University of Missouri (MU), University of Kansas (KU), and Georgia State University (GSU).
Esports Insider says: Plenty of companies have tried to centralise the collegiate esports scene, but no clear frontrunner has yet emerged. The newly formed NACE Starleague has the potential to succeed, as it’s a structured collegiate esports league that include schools and universities from all around the country.