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U esports to compete in Blizzard Entertainment games "Overwatch" and "Hearthstone."

By Vince Horiuchi, public relations associate, College of Engineering

The University of Utah’s nationally-ranked Entertainment Arts & Engineering (EAE) video game design program announced today that Blizzard Entertainment’s wildly popular multiplayer titles “Overwatch” and “Hearthstone” will be official varsity games in Utah’s new collegiate esports program.

A screenshot from the online Blizzard Entertainment video game, “Hearthstone,” a turn-based card trading game. “Hearthstone” is one of the video games that the University of Utah’s new esports team will be competing in this fall.

Varsity esports at the University of Utah is the first college-sponsored varsity esports program from any school in a Power Five athletics conference (Pac-12, Big Ten, Big 12, Atlantic Coast and Southeastern).

“These are two of the biggest esports titles in the world and on our campus,” said A.J. Dimick, EAE esports director of operations. “We are so excited to adopt them as part of our esports scholarship program.”

In less than a year, “Overwatch” has become one of the most talked-about online multiplayer games in the world. Set on a technologically advanced, highly stylized future Earth, “Overwatch” is an objective-based shooter in which teams of heroes — each armed with extraordinary weapons and incredible abilities — clash for control of key locations around the world. The U’s “Overwatch” team will consist of six players, two substitutes and two student coaches.

“Hearthstone” is Blizzard’s hugely popular digital card game based on the company’s acclaimed “Warcraft” franchise. Using customizable decks based on one of nine epic heroes, players employ spells, weapons and summoned minions in turn-based combat. That team will be made up of three players, one substitute and one student coach.

“Overwatch” and “Hearthstone” teams from the University of Utah will compete in tournaments organized by Tespa, the premier college gaming network in North America. Tespa prides itself on giving college students opportunities to realize and embrace their passion for gaming, and has given out well over $1 million in scholarship prizes to date, helping students subsidize their education through their gaming interests.

The University of Utah will hold an open tryout this August to determine which players will make the final scholarship roster for the inaugural season.

The team and the U’s new esports program will be sponsored by the university’s EAE video game development program, which has been ranked the No. 1 video game design program in the nation for three of the past five years by the Princeton Review.