Riot Games has a signed a two-year partnership with one of the biggest conferences in collegiate sports, the company announced today. Under the agreement, Riot will award nearly a half-million dollars to participating Big Ten schools.
The partnership between Riot and the Big Ten Network (BTN) will carry on last year’s inaugural BTN season for two more years. In 2017, 12 of the Big Ten’s 14 total teams participated in a round-robin best-of-three split before the championship. This season, all 14 teams will participate in a similar best-of-three format, but this year teams will be split into the East and West divisions.
The top four teams from each division will compete in the BTN Playoffs, and the champions and runners-up will then move on to Riot’s own collegiate championship at the LCS Battle Arena this summer.
“After spending the past two years learning, participating and beginning to understand the esports landscape, we are now at a point where we can take an exciting step forward,” said Erin Harvego, BTN’s Vice President of Marketing. “From our first test event in April of 2016 until now, Riot Games has been a terrific partner and has helped BTN emerge as the leader in collegiate esports productions.”
The Big Ten is one of the most influential Division I conferences in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
Each of the 14 Big Ten schools will receive $35,000 in scholarships to be distributed evenly throughout the varsity teams, coming to a total of $490,000 in scholarships.
The 14 schools of the BTN are The Ohio State University, Northwestern University, University of Michigan, University of Wisconsin, University of Illinois, Purdue University, Penn State University, University of Minnesota, Michigan State University, University of Maryland, Indiana University, University of Iowa, Rutgers University, and University of Nebraska.
The 2018 BTN season begins Jan. 15. For more details, visit Riot’s official collegiate esports page.