Tonight on ESPN 2, sports fans across the world were treated not to the NBA playoffs or the burgeoning baseball season, but to live footage of college students playing Heroes of the Storm.
Yep, thanks to a partnership with Blizzard, the flashy MOBA—or Multiplayer Online Battle Arena, a genre that also includes the world’s most popular game, League of Legends—got a solid 2+ hours of air time on national television, complete with a live audience and professional eSports commentators. While Kevin Harlan and Reggie Miller called the Rockets/Mavericks game on TNT, Artosis and Day9 called the Heroes of the Storm game on ESPN 2. (Of course, this isn’t the first time ESPN has aired video game tournaments; Dota 2 made it to national TV last year.)
The stakes are very real—this is part of a Blizzard-sponsored tournament called Heroes of the Dorm, and the winning team will snag themselves full scholarships for the rest of their time in college.
As you might expect, a whole lot of people flipped out over all this. Reactions to the tournament—which, thanks to the nature of MOBAs, was rather inaccessible to people not familiar with the game—were incredible, ranging from salty to hilarious. “ESPN 2” trended on Twitter for a few hours, too, and scanning through the reactions is really entertaining. Because this is ridiculous.
Here’s a sampling of some of my favorite tweets about tonight’s festivities:
My personal favorite:
And of course there was plenty of salt. Here’s just a small sample:
ESPN analyst Michelle Beadle probably had the best tweets of the night:
You’ve gotta wonder: wouldn’t ESPN 2 be better served to show a more accessible eSport for casual audiences, like, say, Smash Bros., or Halo? Of course, Nintendo and Microsoft aren’t dishing out cash like Blizzard is. And hey, it’s pretty damn cool to see video games on national TV.