The world of traditional and electronic sports was blended once again Wednesday night as the Oakland Athletics (Major League Baseball) and the San Francisco Shock (Overwatch League) teamed up for a showcase match between collegiate players.
Taking place live at the Shibe Park Tavern located inside the Oakland Coliseum prior to the Athletic’s game that night, the event pitted the University of California and Stanford esports team’s against one another. Members of the viewing public were encouraged to watch both local teams play matches of League of Legends and Overwatch for regional pride.
“While I was watching the showmatch, I saw traditional sports fans, there to pick up their drinks before the match, walking over to check out what the hubbub was about. It was super cool to see people from another generation, and really, another era of culture, be exposed to esports,” said Cherie Lin, the Vice President of the League of Legends Club at Cal. “Having the Oakland A’s space to put on the showmatch was really cool because of that cultural exchange and I think it’s absolutely a step toward both the legitimacy and awareness of esports in the larger zeitgeist.”
Fans in attendance, in addition to being able to watch top-level collegiate talent duke-it-out, had the opportunity to play some games after the event on professional gaming equipment, speak with the collegiate players and meet SF Shock pro player Matthew “Super” DeLisi.
When asked how regularly sports fans reacted to esports being a pre-game show, President is the League of Legends club at Cal, Alex Jiang, spoke candidly:
“I think overall, reception was solid in that they’ve accepted the relevance of eSports to modern collegiate students. The passion and rivalry from traditional sports were just as present in the game, and the crowd just as fired up for the showmatch as any other one”
In addition to putting on a good show, a portion of each ticket sold was donated to the Cal Esports Women in Gaming Initiative.