One of the longest running and most storied college esports organizations, TESPA, is shutting down in 2021. According to a report from Dexerto, the esports monolith struggled during COVID-19 as college campuses across America transitioned to remote learning. Dexerto says that they obtained documents stating that “The Tespa name and brand has been with us since the beginning, and although we are moving on from this brand, we’re excited for the opportunity to integrate more with our game franchises.”
THE College Legacy
Started by a couple of University of Texas – Austin students in 2012, Tespa’s long been synonymous with college esports. Originally, they helped host and manage esports events in their native state. Tespa already specialized in a number of games but in 2014, they partnered with Blizzard to become their official college esports wing. Over the past six years, they held multiple events around Blizzard esports including Overwatch, Call of Duty and Hearthstone. In that timespan, over 1300 schools, and 40,000 students participated in Tespa events.
One of Tespa’s most well known events, “Heroes of the Dorm” was a $400k+ Heroes of the Storm tournament was known for offering full tuition for the winners. And was the first live esports event broadcast to a national TV channel in America.
With no live events and limited travel, Tespa’s wheelhouse effectively ground to a halt. The official Chapter Program, which created a network of officially sanctioned esports programs, will shut down as well. In addition to that the official Discord will also cease to exist.
Even though the loss of Tespa feels like a massive kick to the gut for college esports, it may not be the atom bomb that it seems to be. In Fall 2020, Activision/Blizzard hasn’t added the Tespa name to any of their official tournaments. The Overwatch Varsity Series and Collegiate Call of Duty programs didn’t include any Tespa branding. However, these events continued as normal. Or as normal as they could considering a global pandemic.
What we don’t know is if this affects any staff. If there are still college competitions going on then hopefully most of the TESPA staff can continue working, just under another name. CheckpointXP has reached out to Activision/Blizzard for additional comment but has not received reply.
UPDATE: CheckpointXP has obtained the said documents confirming what was stated in the original Dexerto report. In addition to shutting down the Discord, all Tespa social media handles are closing as well. All program updates for college will live on the Overwatch Path To Pro and Hearthstone Esports accounts.