Announced on ESPN today, Berkeley will launch a community center and ‘several esports initiatives’ on the university’s campus.
One of the academic centers in one of the campus halls of residence will be renovated and sponsored by the two teams. The NRG and the Shock logos will also feature on UC Berkeley’s Cal Esports kit. It’s key to remember here that the Overwatch League team, known as the Shock, shares ownership with NRG – which includes celebrity involvement such as Shaquille O’Neal as Co-owner, plus the likes of Jennifer Lopez amongst the investors. Morever, Andy Miller, NRG Esports Chairman, is also a co-owner of the Sacramento Kings as is Mark Mastrov, another Co-owner who is also the Founder and CEO of 24 Hour Fitness.
The SF Shock and NRG esports are incredibly proud and excited to announce a first of its kind partnership with the #1 Public University in the country.
We can't wait to see what the future holds with @UCBerkeley!!!
— San Francisco Shock⚡ (@SFShock) April 18, 2018
Miller said of the news: “By investing in this esports program, we’re investing in the future: technology, reinvented community, new learning models, and of course, the students.
“Not only is UC Berkeley one of the most prestigious institutions for higher learning in the world, but it also runs the best collegiate esports program in the country. We look forward to the many things we can do together not just in our Northern California market, but hopefully throughout the esports community as well.”
The renovated centre will feature ‘academic, health and wellness programs for student gamers, as well as host regular events.. These will include watch parties for San Francisco Shock and more. Furthermore, as expected, there’ll likely be some academic collaboration too with potential opportunities to tie in esports with academic courses, according to ESPN’s Jacob Wolf.
Speaking to Wolf, UC Berkeley Interim Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Stephen Sutton said: “We’re just growing this set of partnerships now. We’re starting with this community center, as we’re calling it, rather than an arena, because we really want to focus on the concept community where a lot of things happen there; even things like TED Talks, for example, where people come in and talk about the gaming industry and jobs in the gaming industry.
“From our perspective, this is designed to be a holistic community environment rather than just a place where students compete.”
As another string to the bow of this partnership, UC Berkeley, and the two teams will be kicking off a student-led women in gaming initiative with the goal of promoting diversity and opportunities for female students keen on esports and gaming more widely.
UC Berkeley Student and Gaming Community Leader Cherie Lin commented: “Thanks to the new center and our partnerships, we can build on that dedication to promote gender equality in the gaming community, in addition to creating new opportunities for the entire student body.”
Esports Insider says: With San Francisco Shock looking for a venue to call home for future seasons of the Overwatch League, could the UC Berkeley campus provide a smart option? Generally speaking this is a fantastic partnership, UC Berkeley is a world-renowned university with an incredible history. Any academic esports focused additions to courses here would be hugely positive for the industry. Hopefully all the initiatives they have planned prove popular, starting with the viewing parties on-site.