There’s new leadership coming to the Collegiate StarLeague as well as the WorldGaming Network. Playfly Sports announced the acquisition today of both CSL and WGN as they look to establish an industry leading presence in the collegiate esports space. Rob Johnson has been named CEO of the new esports division of Playfly. He most recently served as the COO of Nerd Street Gamers. So what does this all mean for the collegiate esports space? Let’s break it down.
A scene divided
When you think of traditional collegiate sports, one acronym comes to mind. NCAA. Despite there being a number of different conferences like the Big 10 and SEC, they all compete under one major banner which is the NCAA’s jurisdiction. Collegiate esports does not work this way. In collegiate esports, you have multiple different conferences like TESPA, Conference 1, CSL, and a handful of others that all operate independently of one another. The result is you can have multiple national champions in the same game depending on which conference you play for.
Things are further complicated when you consider that some schools play for multiple conferences, or different conferences for different games. This is not by design, but is instead a byproduct of the infancy of the space. Make no mistake, the day will come where all collegiate esports teams compete under one large banner. But to get there will require mainstream backing, both in the media, and financially. Playfly acquiring CSL and WGN today is a step towards both.
The Collegiate StarLeague, better known as just the CSL, has been around the collegiate esports space for a long time. They boast over 1,800 schools and 11,000 teams under their banner. And they’ve awarded over a million dollars in scholarships as prizes for their tournaments. Last year alone, they hosted over 50 live events on campuses across the country. CSL head Wim Stocks had this to say. “With strong relationships across all four major professional sports leagues, we have a great opportunity to help traditional sports leagues and organizations connect with the fans and drive new forms of engagement. Playfly Sports gives us a scale platform to extend the reach of our industry-leading offerings and help entities navigate the world of esports.”
While CSL has done much in the collegiate space, they’ve struggled with the same thing that all collegiate esports struggles with, visibility. Enter Playfly Sports, a full-service sports marketing company providing top tier management of multimedia rights for teams, schools, athletics departments, and other properties. It will be Playfly’s responsibility to the space to ensure CSL matches are given the same treatment as professional esports and indeed, the traditional sports space at large. You can learn more about Playfly here.
The Path To Pro
As North America continues to try and get their esports infrastructure off the ground, the path to pro becomes an incredibly important point. North America continues to lag behind other major regions in talent, and much of that issue lies in our lack of a pipeline to get young talent up to snuff. World Gaming Network is the leading amateur and semi-pro esports tournament network. They’re committed to elevating aspiring amateur esports athletes. Their tournament operations will continue and operate as a subsidiary of Playfly Sports
A strong collegiate space combined with a direct pipeline taking you from amateur to professional could be what finally kickstarts the professional talent pool in North America. To that end, we’ve all got our fingers crossed that Playfly acquiring CSL and WGN is the first step in that direction.