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Sports Link Enters Esports Production Era

Ball State Sports Link, a national leader in digital sports production, entered a new era in its program Feb. 6 by producing the first Esports tournament for broadcast in school history.

Sports Link and Cardinal Esports are teaming to present a Rocket League Tournament featuring Ball State student-athletes and Esports student organization players.

The format, a three-game regular season, followed by a bracket tournament, with every match produced by students in Sports Link and streaming live on Sports Link’s Facebook page.

Student-athletes competing in the tournament include Ryan Rimmler (football), Nolan Givan (football), Tristan Stuteville (soccer), Claudio Como (soccer) and Alex Deruvo (soccer). Representing Ball State Esports will be Jullian Thomas (Gatormelon), Zach Garcia (Zarciia) and Stephen Keers (Darius). 

One of the most salient recent trends in the sports broadcast production sector is the inexorable rise of Esports. This sport will soon be a 1-billion dollar business with a global audience of over 300 million fans. But it doesn’t involve a ball, stadiums or grass pitches.

Esports (short for Electronic Sports) is the name given to professional competitive gaming. Competitors play video games, while being watched by a live audience. Millions more watch the games online.

As the sport grows, so does the opportunities for students skilled in digital sports production. Major networks are now producing Esports tournaments and Esports Arenas are being built across the United States — and on college campuses.

Leading Sports Link into this new era is sophomore Jared Frank.  Frank is the executive producer of SL Esports productions in 2019.

“It’s the first production of its kind in Sports Link history,” Frank said. “I’m excited to help pioneer a new direction in the program. The best thing about starting something new is having no expectations. You can go head first into it and just see how it goes. With the crew we have, I know we’re going to put out something special.” 

Senior Sam Ahrens will direct the live broadcasts and streams, while senior Ryan Pietraszewski will lead production of feature stories and a recap show around the tournament. 

“I’m most excited to work with both student-athletes and the Esports athletes and help create something that hasn’t been done before on campus,” Ahrens said. “I want to help establish a relationship between student-athletes and Esports athletes that can be carried forward into upcoming years.” 

Throughout the season, Sports Link will release feature stories about the relationship student-athletes and Esports players have with video games. 

“I want to entertain and inform people all over campus what Esports is really like, and hopefully lay down a good foundation that Sports Link and the Esports club can build off of in the coming years,” Pietraszewski said. “I want to show everyone who may not know much about Esports how exciting and fun to watch they can be.” 

Cardinal Esports is a student organization where students at Ball State can play video games with other Ball State students in a friendly, yet competitive environment, and to primarily facilitate the growing eSports community

“I’m exited to show the school what competitive gaming is and how talented people can be,” Thomas said. “The time I’ve taken to develop the level of skill I have now can rival the time it takes to get to the NBA, NFL, and other high-level athletics. I’ve watched thousands of hours of competitive game play and put in thousands of hours in my own play.” 

“I think this is a great opportunity for the team to show what we’re about and how Esports work in general.” Keers added. 

Matches will have a best-of-five formats with students from Sports Link and Cardinal Esports providing commentary of the competition. The season begins Feb. 6 at 7pm on Sports Link’s Facebook Page.

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