As college basketball fans flock to UNLV this week for the Mountain West Conference Basketball Championships, visitors will be treated to another collegiate clash that's taking Vegas by storm: esports
Two of the best teams in competitive college gaming will square off March 8-10 at UNLV when the Rebels' “8-Bit Esports” takes on Boise St. in the inaugural Mountain West Esports Showdown. The event, which coincides with the Mountain West Conference's basketball showcase, represents another step forward for the emerging sport.
Here’s what you need to know:
- UNLV and Boise State will compete in three of the most popular esports games: League of Legends, Rocket League and Overwatch.
- Show matches (exhibitions) are scheduled from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. March 8, and from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. March 9. Both matches will be held in the Strip View Pavilion at the Thomas and Mack Center. Admission is free for ticket holders to the MWC basketball tournament.
- The MW Esports Showdown Main Event, played before a live audience, is scheduled for 9 a.m. March 10 in Cox Pavilion. Tickets to the main event are $10 and can be purchased through UNLVTickets. UNLVTickets will host a limited flash sale from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 8, offering $3 tickets to the first 300 who participate. The first 300 fans in attendance will also receive a free t-shirt.
Las Vegas’ Esports Explosion
Esports is exploding in popularity around the world, including in Las Vegas and at UNLV. Esports venues are emerging throughout Las Vegas, including a new competition arena scheduled to open in March on the Las Vegas Strip. Esports is poised to become a $1 billion industry and Las Vegas is becoming a bigger player - both literally and figuratively - with some help from UNLV.
8-Bit Esports is UNLV’s collegiate esports organization and represents the Rebels at national competitions. Founded in 2012, the club-level team competes in five game titles and is an officially recognized organization in the Riot Games Collegiate Program and a partner of the TeSPA network.
Beyond fielding a competitive esports team, UNLV has one of the nation’s only academic programs combining the art, science, and business of esports. Students are creating concepts alongside business leaders and researchers, they're developing technology that could become the next great start-up, and they’re learning from UNLV experts who are helping to usher in this next great wave in hospitality and tourism. At UNLV's International Gaming Institute researchers are immersed in the nuances of the industry, driving best practices on esports and their intersection with the regulated gambling industries, legal and regulatory processes, game development, and competition infrastructure.