Electronic Arts and Learfield IMG College have entered a multi-year partnership to find future esports stars at colleges.
Level Next, The College Esports League, is said to support over 2,500 campuses across the United States and starts with Madden NFL 21. Beginning on November 9, registration is open to all college students that are attending a four-year accredited university.
The league will “feature at least one of EA’s esports franchises” and serves as the gaming company’s official home for collegiate esports.
There’s no word on other titles that the league may adopt in the future but EA are also behind FIFA, NHL, and Apex Legends.
Taking collegiate esports to the next level?
An eight-week regular season will lead to playoffs and a culminating championship, with the winning team being named the national champions. The Fall Champions Series will have a $150,000 total prize pool.
The Madden NFL 21 Championship Series is the official top flight of competition for the American football game and includes sponsors such as Pizza Hut, Snickers, Verizon, and Gillette. The 2021 Club Championship, which is part of the series is set to give out $750,000 across its competitors.
“Until now, collegiate esports has been primarily small-scale, community-based and fragmented. This program will bring the excitement and camaraderie of college competition to a new level,” said Todd Sitrin, SVP of EA’s competitive efforts.
“By leveraging EA’s decades of experience at the intersection of traditional sports and esports, and Learfield IMG College’s unprecedented scale and position as the official rights holder for more than 200 universities and conferences, this collaboration will establish a much-needed structure within the collegiate esports ecosystem and help accelerate Madden NFL competitive gaming popularity.”
The ultimate goal of Level Next is to “unify competitive play at universities nationwide,” which also provides a platform for up-and-coming talent to show off their abilities.
Much like in traditional sports, esports organizers are looking to schools and colleges to create a talent pipeline across multiple gaming titles.