For the first time in the tournament’s history, Heroes of the Dorm fans can win $1 million by filling out a perfect bracket. Calling every contest correctly isn’t easy when players have 64 teams to pick from across multiple rounds, but those that fill out brackets can still win a cool $100,000 for getting the most picks right.
Blizzard putting more money on the line isn’t the only new addition to this year’s tournament. Instead of dividing the more than 300 participating schools into only four regions, there almost 20 distinct regions. This created more opportunities for universities to capitalize on pre-existing local and regional rivalries. In addition, Heroes of the Dorm has upped its streaming game. Instead of just showing bracket-play, viewers got a chance to scout the field across four weeks’ worth of regional matches.
According to Adam Rosen, co-president, and founder of Blizzard-partnered, collegiate esports network Tespa, a number of teams have already distinguished themselves as the top contenders. However, Louisiana State University seems like a particular favorite thanks to some interesting history stretching across the tournament’s existence.
“As we look back over the past Heroes of the Dorm, we’ve consistently seen this storyline where the team that [finishes as] runner up actually comes back to win the entire tournament the following year,” Rosen said. “The first year we had Cal and ASU. Cal won, and the following year ASU came back to win against UC Arlington. The year after that, UC Arlington came back to win, and they beat LSU.”
Aside from whether or not LSU can maintain this stories legacy, Rosen said Florida State University is another team with an intriguing story behind them. This year, Blizzard partnered with Raycom sports to produce an original series following the Atlantic coast universities. While following many of these universities across these hour-long shows, FSU’s focus on teamwork and commitment to the tournament makes them an easy favorite.
It won’t be easy to fight through the bracket and make all the way to the “heroic four,” which will be broadcast for the first time out of the Blizzard Arena, in Los Angeles. Rosen explained that this move to the home of many other Blizzard esports is an exciting opportunity for the community.
“When you walk into the Blizzard Arena, it very clearly speaks Blizzard,” Rosen said. “We think it’s a really special experience, and we’re super excited to bring it there because it adds to that community feel while also giving us the opportunity to elevate the broadcast in ways we haven’t done before.”
This is all a step in reaffirming the importance of Heroes of the Dorm to Blizzard and the larger esports community. According to Rosen, many people who have never heard of esports at large first learn about it from this tournament.
“As we look toward the world that we’re trying to build in the future, where there are official esport programs supported at every major university around the globe, I think it’s really important that we have these aspirational moments we can rally the community behind,” Rosen said. “Moments where the university official who is kind of on the fence about esports can participate actively and really experience what esports is all about.”
The way Heroes of the Dorm can turn heads, overturn stigmas and educate those unfamiliar with esports can allow organizations like Blizzard and Tespa to do more with these tournaments in the future. That is the impact on top of what Heroes of the Dorm normally offers — the prize of paid tuition for the entirety of the winning team’s college careers.
Fill out your bracket here and catch all the action every Wednesday and Thursday for the next four weeks on the official Heroes of the Storm Twitch channel. Tickets are also available here for the May 12 Heroic Four.