BIG EAST Conference bolsters collegiate esports scene with Playfly Esports

07 September 2023

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Image credit: Playfly Esports / BIG EAST Conference

Esports company and agency Playfly Esports has partnered with BIG EAST Conference to create a new esports tournament structure.

Starting in early 2024, six Big East schools will compete in Rocket League and League of Legends conference-based competitions, culminating in a live conference championship later that year.

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The Big East Conference consists of 11 educational institutions in the eastern part of the United states. The universities participating in the esports project are Butler University, Villanova University, Creighton University, DePaul University, St. John’s University and Seton Hall University.

Playfly Esports is best known for being a co-owner of NACE Starleague, one of the most prominent collegiate esports leagues in the country. NACE Starleague has more than 750 schools participating in esports competitions, and more than 15,000 students playing competitively.

The new conference play model with Big East Conference is the first of its kind for NACE Starleague.

Universities from the Big East Conference have been participating in collegiate esports since 2018, however, the new partnership aims to amplify existing esports efforts and provide a better playing field for interested students and staff.

NACE Starleague will host teams from six universities of the Big East Conference in Rocket League and League of Legends competitions. The universities will compete in a round-robin format during the Spring season.

In a statement, Charles O’Donnell, Head of Playfly Esports noted that the conference-based model aims to emulate familiar traditional sports models, helping popularise esports in the universities.

BIG EAST Commissioner, Val Ackerman, commented: “With this move to Playfly Esports and NACE Starleague, our students will have the opportunity to take BIG EAST Esports to the next level. We value our relationship with Playfly and look forward to growing collegiate esports together in the future.”

The announcement continues to shine a light on North American collegiate esports, which has undergone significant developments throughout 2023.

Earlier this month, the esports programmes of the Big Ten Conference, the oldest Division I collegiate athletic conference in the United States, collaborated to launch the Big Esports Conference.

Ivan Šimić
Ivan comes from Croatia, loves weird simulator games, and is terrible at playing anything else. Spent 5 years writing about tech and esports in Croatia, and is now doing it here.

CORRECTION 12/09/23 12:30pm: An earlier version of this article initially stated that PlayFly is the owner of NACE StarLeague, rather than a co-owner.